Education not just overhyped, but over charged
A while back, I wrote a post asking the question of whether college was over-hyped. This was based on a John Stossel column and it really deserves some consideration. After all, many very successfully people never went to college, and some college educated people are sleeping on park benches in this country. Well, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey isn’t ready to say they’re over-hyped, but she seems to think they’re definitely overcharged:
My niece loves most of her academic classes at grad school, but found that some living legends of her department are only there because of reputation rather than teaching skills and put in minimal effort or appearances.
“Ultimately, the faculty are really what makes a school,” says Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of “The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For.”
“They have the most long-term effect on campus atmosphere and student’s educational experience,” she says. “Students on campuses come and go, but faculty are there forever in many cases.”
In her book, Riley deconstructs the cause of such faculty longevity, taking on one of the most cherished perks of high education, tenure.
She asks whether the awarding of jobs for life, often as a result of a professor’s research and publication in rarefied journals, leads to some faculty staying too long at schools and doing too little of what ought to matter most — teaching.
Tenure, she contends, is dragging colleges away from their original and most important mission, and stifling the young, innovative professors, in addition to cheating students of the education they deserve.
I can’t say she’s out of line in asking either.
Tenure is an attractant. It lures teachers to the college ranks, the idea of a secure position for as long as you want it. It also adds a level of freedom to teach how you want to without having to worry about whether you’ll be fired because you taught something outside the box. However, as Downey’s column points out, that’s not all there is either.
Once entrenched, teachers often don’t bother doing much in the way of teaching. There’s not a lot administrators can do to change that either, since firing is completely off the table. This isn’t a good situation to be in either.
However, I’d say this is a factor in why college education may be over-hyped in the first place. The idea that you will study with all these great professors sounds wonderful on the surface, but do you really accomplish anything? After all, a lot of college graduates leave school with no more ability to work than a high school graduate, and incompetent or lazy teachers may well be part of it. Of course, Women’s Studies degrees aren’t really in demand in the work force either, so that might just be a factor too.
The problem is that for years, kids have been told that they need to go to college. However, that ignores a lot of things. For example, what about a kid who has no interest in college? The world needs tradesmen too after all. Trust me folks, it ain’t college graduates who build your homes, just as an example. Another thing it ignores is that some kids aren’t equipped to deal with traditional college educational models. They go, flunk out, and are essentially told they’re a failure even though the problem is that they are a bad fit for an educational system that’s been in place for hundreds of years to some extent with little variation.
Of course, I also don’t see why a kid should have to spend $45,000 in some instances to be forced to study literature when they want to be an engineer, but that’s just me.