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The Tuition Is Too Damn High
September 8, 2013 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Over the past couple of weeks, Wonkblog has examined the fast rising cost of college tuition in the United States and its effects on society.

Each part of the series looks at a different aspect of this issue:
Part 2: Why college is still worth it
Part 3: The three reasons tuition is rising
Part 4: How important are state higher ed cuts?
Part 5: Is the economy forcing colleges to spend more?
Part 6: Why there's no reason for big universities to rein in spending
Part 7: Is government aid actually making college more expensive?
Part 8: Is this all rich kids' fault?
Part 9: Will MOOCs save us?
Part 10: So how do we fix it?
posted by reenum (48 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the all-time top Reddit life hacks is to go to college at one of the European countries with free or reduced college tuition (Norway, Finland, Austria, Germany). A sign of the times, I guess.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:17 AM on September 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


The "how do we fix it" article doesn't really describe how "we" (citizens, students) can fix anything. It describes how politicians could potentially make a difference. So how do we make politicians do these things? It's not as if they don't know people are upset about the cost of tuition, they've just got other (better funded) priorities to mind.

In Quebec the students (and some faculty) went on strike. Lots of people with no direct connection to the universities joined the demonstrations. They successfully halted tuition increases.

Now, most Americans are going to assume this is a product of their Gallic nature or other contingencies, and that it could never happen here. I don't think that's the case. Quebecois students were not appreciably better organized than there U.S. counterparts a few short years ago. This happened because the discontent was widespread (as it is in the U.S.) and a small group of activists was able to midwife into existence the bodies required to coordinate the strike.
posted by phrontist at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


phrontist, I'm no expert but it seems the Quebecois students are vastly more organized and have the history and context to back that up. When I was reading about it at the time everyone emphasized the strong tradition of free education via the Quiet Revolution and the more radical student organizations that came out of that and led and organized the 2012 strike. Those organizations were also pretty instrumental in setting the tone of the strike, and the tradition of free education was what led to widespread solidarity with non-students.

I don't think it's impossible for something like that to happen in the US, just that to say they are pretty similar is not true. The Quebec strike didn't spread to other parts of Canada largely because of this context it happened in, although obviously there is a lot to learn from what they did.
posted by bradbane at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


A question that doesn't appear to be asked is whether or not requiring employees to have a college education is worth it.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:34 AM on September 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


From Part VI:
The quality of college isn’t completely evident during freshman orientation. People overwhelmingly only get one undergraduate degree, so colleges and universities don’t have to worry as much about satisfying repeat customers. And there are more than two parties to the transaction. There’s a student and a college, sure, but there is also the student’s parents, and the government, and even the student’s future employers. Those all end up mattering for the financing of the product in question. It’s a really, really messed up market.

...

The main signal that you can use is price, and in particular sticker price. The theory is schools that cost more will deliver a better education. That means schools have a real incentive to push up tuition for its own sake. And if the Bowen theorem is right, once tuition goes up, so too does spending, making it harder for the effect to be undone.
This is something I've long suspected: that tuition inflation is like McMansion inflation. You can't point to quality, especially before you've lived in the house for twenty years, but you can point to six bedrooms and a surround-sound theater. The incentive for colleges (and other kinds of schools) is to have big, gaudy projects that signify Quality. Actual quality often doesn't even come into the equation, because it's too hard to quantify.
posted by jiawen at 10:51 AM on September 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


A confounding factor is that, despite rising tuition costs, more students enroll every year. While there's no doubt that college costs have gone up and up, it's hard to argue that costs should be lower when demand continues to rise.

Though that trend may be changing. Which would probably be a good sign overall even if it doesn't translate into a drop in actual costs.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:41 AM on September 8, 2013


The thing that I've always found most bizarre about university financing is the coupling of two largely unrelated fields: scholastic research and writing, and teaching. I'm most familiar with humanities, social science, and law (where I've spent time as both a student and a university employee), so I won't presume to speak for STEM fields. Maybe in those fields, it really does make a difference if first-year lectures are taught by famous researchers. But I majored in philosophy as an undergrad. That means that most of my classes involved reading famous philosophy texts, the same texts that every other philosophy undergraduate reads, writing very basic papers about what they mean, and discussing their basic tenets in class. I learned a ton, and I was lucky to have very smart professors who were excellent teachers, and I really enjoyed myself. And my tuition dollars paid for those very smart professors to have offices and salaries and the support systems that any worker needs.

But for my professors, teaching was only a very small part of the job. My best professors were primarily focused on their own writing of books and scholarly articles. And that's true both at major research universities and at "teaching-focused" small liberal arts colleges. All tenure-track professors understand that the only way to advance their own careers is to write and publish; teaching falls way down the list in importance. The tuition I paid gave them offices to write in, and time to write articles, and the ability to go to conferences and present their work and stay competitive as scholars. Heck, my tuition paid for professors every couple of years to take a semester-long sabbatical from teaching, maintain their salaries, and just do research without interacting with me at all, while I and my classmates paid for it. And the university gained prestige as these scholars published their work and became more famous in the international community.

I also went to law school, and it was the same situation. My professors were, mostly, pretty good teachers. But their real job, that I was paying for to the tune of $55k a year, was publishing papers about topics that had almost nothing to do with what they were teaching me in class. I paid a huge amount of tuition for about 15 hours a week of class instruction from professors who spent the majority of their time working on projects that had nothing to do with educating me. And the combination of those expectations, combined with the tenure system, meant that most of my professors could work on whatever projects interested them, rather than projects that would actually contribute to the field in a way that would benefit me as a member of the profession, much less as a student.

In other words, the part of my tuition that paid professors' salaries and expenses wasn't paying for my professors to teach me: it was paying for the luxury good of famous professors who are world-renowned scholars. And to some extent, I liked that, because it means that my degree was seen as more prestigious. But for a student, unless you're planning to become an academic yourself, it is, in fact, a status symbol, an expensive luxury, just like having really buildings designed by a famous architect, or having a really awesome fitness center.

Research and writing and academia are important, and I think we as a society benefit from having lots of them. But it's bizarre to me that we make people who are trying to learn the basics of a field massively subsidize the creation of high-level scholarship in that field, scholarship that they may never get to the point of benefiting from. I don't have a solution. And I know that professors' salaries and benefits aren't the only, or even the biggest, thing contributing to tuition inflation. But I do know that I'd know just as much about basic contract law if I'd learned it from a professor who hadn't made six figures for publishing articles about critical race theory. And now I'm six figures in debt.
posted by decathecting at 11:44 AM on September 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Actually, the tuition hike is not off the table for students here. The PQ has already backpedaled on its promise to freeze tuition; so really, it's more a matter of when than anything else.
posted by Kitteh at 11:47 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Phrontist, the tuition didn't increase, so instead the loans program in Quebec changed (as of Sept 2013) to require much more money from you/your parents/your spouse (depending on your living situation). You get loans based on tuition and living expenses, minus the expected contribution. As of a year ago, your contribution started at household income of $55,000 if you had two parents living together, $50,000 if you had a single parent or were alone, $48,000 if you were married, as of this year the numbers are $36,000, $31,000 and $29,000, respectively -- you are expected to be able to contribute 20% of your income over that cap for the next $35,000 or so, 30% for the next $10,000, 40% for the following $10,000 and 50% for whatever income you have above that.

So, sure, the tuition didn't go up, but the amount Quebec students have to pay before loans did.

No one knows this, and I have no idea why not.
posted by jeather at 11:50 AM on September 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Further to decathecting's excellent comment above:

I obtained Bach and Masters' degrees in Engineering from a well regarded engineering school; some (the alumni assoc for starters) would argue it's a top in its class school. The more I look back on the seven years (and umpty thousand bucks) I spent there the more it seems to me that the quality of the lecturing was generally poor-to-nonexistent, and the way I remember it the one or two profs who seemed to put the most time and energy into their teaching also seemed to have the least resources, recognition and career growth.

I debated at the time about getting a phd, (setting aside whether I might actually have had strong enough branestuff to do so) but realized that what I would enjoy the most about it was the teaching vs shuffling funding grant apps and herding ding-a-ling grad students like I was, and there was no path to success model which seemed obvious to me, at least in my field at that particular school.

One of the things I enjoy most in my current job is mentoring junior EITs and dorking/pedanticking out about the fundamentals of our field, trying to find concrete examples to help them apply the abstract stuff they just spent 4 years shoveling into their heads.Every few years I make a half hearted stab at arranging a sessional teaching gig at the U or even a local tech college, but it's never come together (yet).
posted by hearthpig at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Recently, previously and previously.

My recollection of mefi threads doesn't go that far back, but in an even earlier piece, Frank discusses what I think is a key to the decades-long trend in rising prices: The introduction of what amounted to free-agency for students and for faculty.

While it may be fair that the collusion was lifted, consider that it may have loosed a dynamic that is hard to account for. Faculty are motivated to do their research and (in rare cases, in my experience, but still) to teach. Even when teaching, the preference is for the small, specialized seminar course, not the meatgrinder scutwork of introductory courses. Full, free-agent, tenure track, grant-funded STEM faculty can negotiate not just higher salaries, named chairs, expensive laboratory start-up or renovation packages. They can also negotiate a change in their duties and responsibilities, eg, less committee work, small classes, more administrative support.

So, it's not just increased administrative costs in the form of higher salaries for those in the upper reaches of the administrative hierarchy. You have to hire the adjunct faculty to handle the load the star faculty won't soil their hands with. It's also more administrators across the board, and more staff, and much less oversight by the faculty as to what all those people are doing and whether it aligns with the ostensible missions of the university.
posted by one weird trick at 12:07 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Quebec the students...went on strike.

No, they didn't. It is not possible for students to go on strike. A fairly large group of students was walking out of classes, sometimes actively disrupting them, and encouraging others not to go, but that's a boycott, not a strike.

It's also difficult to have sympathy for them when their tuition is the lowest on the entire continent, and really does not break the bank. Fighting like they did over no more than $6500, when a university education will earn them a hundred times that over their working lifetimes, made them look like spoiled brats, especially since university students are already whiter and wealthier than the average person who lives in Quebec.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:08 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think "breaking the bank" is relative, and saying that people are "acting like spoiled brats" standing up for something they believe in strikes a bad note with me.

Full disclosure: I actually went to university in Quebec and I definitely appreciate graduating without student loan debt.
posted by bquarters at 12:23 PM on September 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry, that second Frank article only talks about collusion on admissions, tuition, and financial aid. I may be misremembering the bit about collusion in faculty hiring--if I can find a reference for that, I'll try to bring it back here
posted by one weird trick at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2013


Whether you agree or disagree with the Quebec students, part of the reason they have the lowest tuition in Canada and the US -- though of course high compared to Europe -- is that students keep fighting for low tuition. If they had not, it is unlikely that tuition in Quebec would remain low. And, of course, the students were in general not fighting for themselves -- much of the tuition increase would have happened when they had graduated.
posted by jeather at 12:47 PM on September 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


And that's true both at major research universities and at "teaching-focused" small liberal arts colleges. All tenure-track professors understand that the only way to advance their own careers is to write and publish; teaching falls way down the list in importance.

I'm guessing the teaching focused, in quotes, is to denote that some of these colleges say they are, but really aren't, rather than including everyone under that umbrella. At least at the ones I'm familiar with, you have to show excellent teaching to get tenure. Research is great, but you'd better be able to show that research often included students, or focused on teaching pedagogy, if you want to make a good impression. A given week means about 20 hours in class/prep for class/grading, 5 in office hours, 5 in meetings with students, 8 in committee obligations, then whatever's left for research. We are lucky enough to have sabbaticals at my college, they happen every six years (technically; it's averaging around 8-10 in practice). In your plan you have to explain how it will enhance your teaching.

With all that, what you don't have when your main focus is teaching, is prestige. The big researchers become common names, show up in the media, etc. People say they want great teachers, but money to support the effort that it takes to train, produce, and support them isn't there to the same degree at all.
posted by bizzyb at 12:56 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, we had protests for years on end at my college, and this is how it helped.

I'm with phrontist: How can anyone who's not a bigwig change anything?
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2013


> "Fighting like they did over no more than $6500 ... made them look like spoiled brats ..."

Guys, one of the other crabs is trying to climb out of the bucket! Quick, pull it back in!
posted by kyrademon at 1:12 PM on September 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


Fighting like they did over no more than $6500, when a university education will earn them a hundred times that over their working lifetimes, made them look like spoiled brats, especially since university students are already whiter and wealthier than the average person who lives in Quebec.

Whether any of the individual students can afford an extra $6500 is actually irrelevant to whether a strike is justified. The point of solidarity and collective action is that it's not just the people suffering the greatest consequences who are out in the street.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:19 PM on September 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


The fourth article seems to want to argue that state budget cuts aren't a major player in tuition increases by saying that the University of California system had 17.6% more in inflation adjusted revenue in 2010 over 2000.

However, if I'm reading the enrollment data here correctly, student enrollment increased over 37%

So, yeah...
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:32 PM on September 8, 2013


No, they didn't. It is not possible for students to go on strike. A fairly large group of students was walking out of classes, sometimes actively disrupting them, and encouraging others not to go, but that's a boycott, not a strike.

Learning is intellectual labor, regardless of the fact that it is un- (even negatively-) paid labor in the US and Canada. The students were absolutely on strike.
posted by eviemath at 1:40 PM on September 8, 2013


Guys, one of the other crabs is trying to climb out of the bucket! Quick, pull it back in!

Survey says: [X]

"The state is helping me earn a million dollars more over my lifetime! How dare they take less than 1% of that?"

Yep, that's totally trying to lift the poor out of poverty and not middle-class folks complaining that their huge discount on an incredibly valuable item isn't quite huge enough.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:41 PM on September 8, 2013


The students were absolutely on strike.

They were not withdrawing a service. It is not a strike if words have meaning. They picked the term because it sounds cool and compelling, but it certainly isn't accurate.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:42 PM on September 8, 2013


"The state is helping me earn a million dollars more over my lifetime! How dare they take less than 1% of that?"

Plus, of course, the highest taxes in North America, which is part of why many people don't like the idea of higher tuition rates.
posted by jeather at 1:52 PM on September 8, 2013


They were not withdrawing a service.

(a) Having a well-educated population is a public good in a democratic country. Participating in this education process, as either a teacher or a learner, is therefore quite arguably a service.

(b) A strike is, in fact, any organized mass withholding of labor. If a group of unpaid interns withholds their labor from the company or organization that they are interning at, that is also a strike. If a group of co-op students who are paying a university for course credit for their unpaid internship organize to withhold their labor as interns, that is also a strike. If a group of housewives organize to withhold their unpaid domestic labor, even though they may also suffer from lack of clean laundry or warm meals, that is also a strike.

Additionally, the term "strike" is commonly used in a few circumstances beyond that of a collective labor action, such as "rent strike". The rationale behind such an extension of the term relies on a historical understanding of a "strike" as a collective action of a lower socio-economic class to pressure a higher socio-economic class for some concessions via collective withholding of something that the higher socio-economic class requires. Which brings us back around to point (a) and why "student strike" is valid not only by a narrow definition of the term "strike" but also in the social context and history of the form of collective action known as a "strike".
posted by eviemath at 1:53 PM on September 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Does my gym know that I've gone on strike? I keep paying membership dues every month and then not showing up.
posted by indubitable at 2:18 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is your lack of use of your gym membership a collective action with others as part of a struggle for economic justice?
posted by eviemath at 2:19 PM on September 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


No mention of the Baumol effect?
posted by idb at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2013


I started reading the article, and then my eyes glazed over.

A. There are a million and one articles agreeing college tuition is too high.

B. There are a few articles suggesting how to fix this.

C. There is fuck all being done about it.

It's a rich man's world.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:46 PM on September 8, 2013


College tuition is not necessarily too high. We have created a fetish among emplyers for bachelor degrees in the US and the price of any in-demand good will be high. Cause employers to substitute an IQ test and a probationary period as the means of fillng their sales, jr manager and paper pushing jobs and tumbleweeds will roll through (more or less) open admission univerisities' pricey rec centers and hotel suite style dorms, with tuition falling accordingly.
posted by MattD at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link. This confusing topic could not be more relevant to my life at the moment and I feel I have a much clearer picture after reading this straightforward overview.
posted by a birds at 3:55 PM on September 8, 2013


idb, Baumol's cost disease is the topic of part 5 of the linked articles.
posted by a birds at 3:58 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


One big problem with using psychometrics as a screen, MattD, is that things like poverty and lack of schooling both appear to negatively affect IQ, while conversely grades in school measure some important things IQ mostly doesn't, like self-reliance, self-discipline, tolerance for work, social intelligence, and "grit." I would even argue that these are more important qualities for many employers to know vs. raw intelligence. Lots of people have had to deal with brilliant but obnoxious and flaky divas as co-workers, bosses, and subordinates, for instance. I'm not even sure it's possible to measure someone's willingness to continue to do difficult work over time in a single-session test with very much accuracy, though it's totally possible a cognitive psychologist will show up and tell me I'm wrong.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:02 PM on September 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


But for my professors, teaching was only a very small part of the job. My best professors were primarily focused on their own writing of books and scholarly articles. And that's true both at major research universities and at "teaching-focused" small liberal arts colleges. All tenure-track professors understand that the only way to advance their own careers is to write and publish; teaching falls way down the list in importance.

You've never actually seen a contract for a tenure-line faculty at a "teaching-focused" college or university, huh?
posted by one_bean at 4:33 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


en forme de poire: "while conversely grades in school measure some important things IQ mostly doesn't, like self-reliance, self-discipline, tolerance for work, social intelligence, and "grit.""

Nah, grades measure how well you take tests.

My best semester in college, grade-wise, I took 22 credits--three of those one-credit, three-credits'-work lab classes, and worked 20 hours each weekend. In that case my grades measured my ability to ingest trucker speed and Mountain Dew.

(I pretty much slept for a week once school let out.)
posted by notsnot at 4:36 PM on September 8, 2013


Nah, grades measure how well you take tests.

That doesn't appear to be true overall, because otherwise GPA and IQ would be redundant measures and empirically, they seem to provide distinct information: they're not perfectly correlated, and my understanding is that including both leads to significantly better prediction than including just one. This is the reasoning behind, e.g., asking for both SAT scores and high school GPA in college admissions.

Also, from someone else who has used that strategy in college, I can also attest that IME if you are able to get by with just upper-fueled cram sessions, it probably means your coursework wasn't challenging you enough. (Alternatively, you had excellent strategies for keeping on top of your coursework over the course of the semester so your cram sessions were more like review sessions.)
posted by en forme de poire at 4:50 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


A strike is, in fact, any organized mass withholding of labor

That is true, but these students aren't withholding labor because they aren't providing it in the first place. We're talking about undergrads refusing to attend class, and often interfering with students who do want to attend class to do so.

The Quebec students were asked to pay more for their education while still having a great majority of the costs covered by the government. But as long as they get their tiny amount of money right now, they don't actually care where it comes from (most likely sources: higher taxes after they graduate, wage freezes for faculty and staff, and Ontario taxpayers' wallets).
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:32 PM on September 8, 2013


The Quebec students were asked to pay more for their education while still having a great majority of the costs covered by the government. But as long as they get their tiny amount of money right now, they don't actually care where it comes from (most likely sources: higher taxes after they graduate, wage freezes for faculty and staff, and Ontario taxpayers' wallets).

Yes, this is part of the history of driving the cost of tuition *down*. These things don't happen without action on the part of the people who want them, and your comparisons are not really arguments. Having the lowest tuition in Canada is a good thing.

Now the corruption and mismanagement in Quebec is not exactly helping to make it affordable, but on the flip side, complaining about Ontario paying for it isn't fair because the best and brightest stand just as good a chance, if not better, of taking their cheap education results to Toronto for a job.
posted by Phalene at 6:32 PM on September 8, 2013


your comparisons are not really arguments

My arguments are not really comparisons.

Making tuition cheaper just because, even though university graduates are, by and large, going to be perfectly well equipped to do their part and pay their share of an investment the state is making in them that will have an enormous monetary benefit to them personally. We're talking about less than a year's pay out of an entire career's worth of hugely increased earnings; that really isn't much. Is it really necessary to give a few thousand dollars to people who are already going to earn several hundred thousand more?

And if you do cut or freeze tuition, where are you going to recoup that money? You think you're going to raise taxes? Of course not. What's going to happen is that you're going to cut positions and salaries for faculty and support staff and see the ones who can get a job elsewhere do exactly that. Is it really worth taking the difference out of your employees' pockets when it causes your institution's performance to tank?

This applies pretty generally to public universities in North America, not just Quebec.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2013


How the hell is it an investment in students when the state supports employer discrimination based on who could afford to wait in line a few years for a piece of paper?
posted by Phssthpok at 8:54 PM on September 8, 2013


Phssthpok: "How the hell is it an investment in students when the state supports employer discrimination based on who could afford to wait in line a few years for a piece of paper?"

I run an experiential learning program at a flagship state university. The skills we teach are so sought after by industry that, in the year and a half I've been here, we've had a 100 percent placement rate and a 0 percent graduation rate. This is frustratingly counter to university benchmarks, and if the deans ever figure this out, we'll have to spend a long while explaining ourselves.

While this may suggest that a diploma is little more than a piece of paper, it also suggests that there are real skills being taught, and that employers, by and large, aren't using degrees as a state approved discrimination engine. Plus, if the deans ever decide to give us the axe I figure we start up a Benefit Corp and continue doing business as usual.
posted by pwnguin at 10:03 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


College tuition is not necessarily too high.

Not wanting to engage in a long argument here, but driving by this thread, I feel like it should be obvious that, if the price of a college degree were truly 'efficient' as economists define it, that would necessarily mean that some people were missing out on an education purely because of price and for no other reason. That is a bad outcome for society and for some individuals.
posted by newdaddy at 11:27 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


eviemath, all your examples in (b) are people withholding something of value and costing their employer or family. Student strikes don't have the same immediate coercive effect.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aljazeera reports:

...
MOOCs are touted for bypassing geographic and financial barriers, but they cannot replace the barrier of prestige. As I've previously argued, higher education has become less about the degree than the pedigree. Employability rests not on intelligence or hard work, but on the acquisition of credentials. When education is exorbitant, credentials tend to be bought rather than earned.

Even if MOOCs provided an education equal to that of a traditional university, they cannot provide the institutional cachet that makes one competitive on the job market. But lower-income students who cannot afford elite institutions are still at the mercy of credentialism. In a lecture at the University of California - Irvine, Cottom describes how students targeted by MOOCs and for-profit universities tend to see education as a means of protection against a disastrous economy:

"People are casting about for the means to protect themselves against insecurity [of unemployment]," she says. "They're looking for a way to be respected at work, to be respected in their communities, to locate their position in the larger social structure, and to find that position congruent with their ideal selves. They are looking for dignity.

"That we have constructed the only means for achieving those things as credentials, or credential hoarding, and that we understand that as market demand - I would call it mass insecurity."

MOOCS are a cheaper way of achieving credentials - but these credentials do not translate into meaningful currency in the job market, because they are a product of, not a remedy for, a failed system. They tackle the problem of exclusion by peddling knock-offs to the excluded.

A common response to the plight of lower-income students is that cheap MOOCs are at least better than expensive but poor quality colleges. But this creates one set of standards for the rich and another for the rest. It ignores systematic inequalities by creating an alternate route for those deemed, by virtue of class, to be less deserving.
...
posted by legospaceman at 2:22 AM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


People don't enslave themselves willingly, unless you can convince them that it's really for their benefit or enjoyment.

Do that, and they'll fall all over themselves to be enslaved. This is remarkably easy to achieve when it comes to things like "education" and the cost thereof. Wonder why student debt isn't discharged in bankruptcy? Yeah, not an accident.
posted by aramaic at 6:12 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seemingly interesting response that I read quickly and haven't really thought about:

The Theory is Too Damn Thin

Also, I don't know anything about how budgets work.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:35 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


leotrotsky: "One of the all-time top Reddit life hacks is to go to college at one of the European countries with free or reduced college tuition (Norway, Finland, Austria, Germany). A sign of the times, I guess."

Amongst the many reasons I've given my husband to try and convince him that we should move to Europe (because I miss England) or Canada (because...rational humans), is the education system. My son is spooky smart, and the education system we can afford offers him nothing, and given the economic climate we've been in since he was born, it's pointless to "save" for college. How am I supposed to save a quarter of a million dollars above and beyond retirement and paying the mortgage and bills. When I went to university in Texas 20 years ago, I could a pay my tuition, my books, my apartment all on a night and weekend job. Since universities here were de-regulated, and the fees have gone up something like 600% in 20 years, I don't know anyone who could put themselves through college by working nights and weekends.

The idea that I need to go into debt until the day I die, so that I can help my kid get an "education" that allows him to work for a free "internship" is bug-fuck-insane.
posted by dejah420 at 9:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]




Does my gym know that I've gone on strike? I keep paying membership dues every month and then not showing up.

Depending on where you work and how you get your health care, good luck with that.

Exercise in one form or another is very much increasingly viewed as a social good, though in this case distorted through the twin funhouse mirrors of the US labor market and health care system.
posted by one weird trick at 7:38 AM on September 10, 2013


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