Thursday, May 21, 2009

lazy TFT

While I've had a few TFT's I have been wanting to get out lately, I'm taking the lazy way out this morning; directing you to someone else's thoughts this Thursday.

I found this blog post very interesting and am wondering what other's takes are on it. On the whole situation and what in the world can we do about it?

So if you have a minute, go read here (read through some of the comments too!) and come back and tell me your thoughts. I'll post some of my ruminations here later.

Okay, so my thoughts are I really don't know what to think.
I think Sheila makes some very good points; obviously debt is becoming such a "norm" that people (young students) don't give it a second thought. You "need" to go to college, so you go -whether you can afford it or not. And I don't agree with that.

If you can't afford a college education, if you haven't earned scholarships to help, if money hasn't been saved up along the way to get you started, then I don't completely agree that the right thing to do is to go off to a four year university and rack up $100K+ in debt. Especially if you're going for some general, or "just to get a college degree" degree. I agree whole-heartedly with the post Sheila linked to in the fact that degrees are often overrated. There are definitely jobs that you need a specific education for; things like education, medicine, law, counseling, some aspects of business, etc. But there are an awful lot of jobs out there that people without the degrees can do just as well or better than the "educated" job seekers. The sad thing is the fact that everyone is so obsessed with the degree factor, that those oppotunies are rare these days.
I know many friends who don't have a degree but have worked in their field from an internship in high school and are more knowledgable and experienced than those that have. Luckily they got into their jobs before the infatuation with fancy degrees and they are making substantial salaries. If they were now where they were fifteen years ago, I don't think the proffessional world would allow them that chance. They'd have to spend the mulitple years and the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to even have the chance to do the same exact job they're doing extremely successfully now.
I experienced that in my job; I was a preschool teacher for almost 10 years. I don't have a degree in Early Childhood education. I got a good in with a great preschool/daycare, and eventualy wound up running my own classroom in the pre-k program, then moved on to a prestigious priviate Christian preschool. All along the way I felt pressure from my superiors to go finish my degree. They wanted me to have that certificate. I adamantly refused. I was in the same position and making the same money (and was favored by parents and coteachers as more experienced, organized and knowledgable) that other teachers in my school with the degree were... why would I take a step back and have to spend thousands of dollars and many many many hours, just to prove I know how to do the job I'm already doing? It didn't make sense to me. I had great experience, great references and a great track record. And it almost didn't matter. I think that's silly.
Also, on this point, how many people do I know that got a degree in one direction and ended up in a completely different direction when it came to their real life career?? That's what I think is even crazier... that we expect a sixteen-eighteen year old to know what they want to do with their life.... and bet $100K on it. I know some people know what they want to do and where their passions lie. But the kid who doesn't know what he wants to do, who goes into school racking up all those student loans just to get a degree in something- anything? Is that really necessary??

But I'm getting off on a tangent. This issie isn't about education vs. no education. It's about the ridiculous cost of said education. (and I know, I know, how can you put a price on the value of the experience of your college years??) But my issue is the ease with which students take that on as debt and then expect someone else to take care of it.
I think the aspect of the debt being paid off at some rate consistent with what you're actually making in the real world is a good idea. The idea of just flat out forgiving said debt? I don't agree with that.

If this is such a huge problem that people cannot afford to repay a University education and are overwhelmed by the burden of the debt, then I do not think the answer is to simply have them pay a portion of it and then be "forgiven". Shouldn't the problem just be nipped in the bud and instead of it being a loan issue, why not force the schools to lower their tuitions in the first place. It's in this that I understand where Sheila is coming from... will it take a boycott of sorts to keep university prices reasonable?? I think we all know that will never happen. It's been ingrained in us now... you need a college education. The jobs dictate that. (albeit the theoretical jobs)
So is there really nothing we can do about it? It seems like such a depressing vicous circle. And I'm afraid the cost is just going to go up phenomonally from here on out. It's just inflated insanely. I mean why does it have to cost a student over a thousand dollars a year for textbooks?? Did you know that textbook prices have risen over 186% since 1986?? For books. Crazy. And yet we still pay, because what other option is there?

Anyway. I'm just kind of rambling. I don't have any concrete thoughts on this issue or solutions. Something needs to change, that's for sure.
As for me, I do agree completely with what the original post said:
I'm not against education. My kids will go to college. But with an appropriate plan for a specific career, and when we've saved money for it or they've worked hard for scholarships. I would never let my child get a liberal arts degree going into a humungous debt with no plan.

I think it's more an issue not of shouldn't everyone have a college education, but rather who is smart enough at this point to get that education responsibly and not become part of this problem.


Steph said...

Hum... I don't really know where to start on this one.
I do think that education costs way too much money. It's definitely hard for an out-of-college student to start a life, get a car, house, everything with all this debt. I was lucky enough to have parents who could afford my education, and only ended up with a loan for 1 year of university. But I have friends, and we all know people, who has over 75 000$ in debt. Not fun...
And I don't think that the government ''forgiving'' our debt helps up anyway. It doesn't put the responsibility on us, and I understand where she's coming from.
But... to say that we shouldn't focus on education and start being more entrepreneurs and stuff... I don't necessarily agree. And yes, to some extent, in lots of jobs you don't need the education they require... but I do believe in college or university education, I think it is important to an extent. But, I don't have anything against the people who take another route.

Gabe and Heidi's P.A.D. said...

Wow! I couldn't disagree with her more.
Being an educator, and having worked hard (with the help of mom and dad) to get through a liberal arts university, and then taking on debt to get a masters, I think she's terribly misguided. Of all the things I can think about going into debt for, and education is about the only one. (And my house I guess!) Yes, I have some school debt but it's something I easily manage.
I agree with her in that the cost is out of control. Maybe the problem in the US is that higher education isn't free. When I was in England students were protesting because the government was going to start asking them to pay less than 3,ooo pounds a term. I would have been thrilled to pay less than 6,000 dollars for a term. Yes, the cost is too high but should that mean we stop educating ourselves and the next generation?
I'm interested to hear your thoughts Heather.

Nicole said...

Just a shotgun comment... (I'm starving and don't have time to analyze that much)... I agree and disagree with her. Yes, education is WAY too expensive. Its ridiculous to come out of college and immediately have $300+ monthly payments on student loans. Is it irresponsible for students to take on debt for school? I don't think so. Sometimes that is the only solution, the only way.

I disagree with her that people should stop going to college and open their own businesses. Where would you get the training for running your own business (at least something that will be extremely profitable and allow you to live on). I think that college, while so overpriced, does provide you with experiences and knowledge and ways of thinking that you often can't get from just graduating high school.

I think there is also something to be said about the motivation/stamina (?!?) of attending college and receiving your degree. In a way, I think many employers prefer a degree as that shows that an employee has determination and is willing to put forth an effort into something. That doesn't mean that there are plenty of non-college educated people out there that have just as much, or more, willingness to put effort into a job/career.

The author sounds kind of snobbish to me.... as she disses college education but then in the next sentence says her kids will go to a university and that THEY will pay for it and (essentially) not take "handouts" and expect to be bailed out. Good for her that she and her husband have the money to save for their children's education. Some parents don't. Does that mean their kids shouldn't have the chance/right to go to college? I don't think so.

Katie said...

Gosh.... I think Nicole & your sister have pretty much summed up my feelings on this topic.

I strongly agree with Nicole on the fact that there is definitely something to be said about the dedication and motivation it takes to finish schooling. I know I wouldn't be the person I am today without going to college, I grew in so many different ways as a person while I was in school, not sayng that I didn't in the "real world", just in different ways. And speaking from someone who sees a small family business run first hand there is A LOT of debt that goes into opening your own business, more than some people realize I think. It most definitely has its perks I won't deny that, but the grass is always greener on the other side. My wish is for my children to do what makes them happy wether it be getting their PhD from a major University or learning a skill such as being a mechanic, I also want them to understand the reality of trying to make it and be successful without a degree from college....I do believe it's a harder road at times.

Kim said...

i feel kind of like the other posters... i do agree that the price of college is ridiculous, but don't necessarily agree with the original post.

here is where i'm coming from: neither my husband nor i had any student loans. both of our parents saved for us to go to college, and we both went to a private school (cost about 80k for 4 years). i worked really hard in high school to get academic scholarships (none were based on need). high school was WAY more stressful for me than college ever was, because i had to get that perfect 4.0 and fabulous ACT score. but i was able to pay for about 60k of my college education with those scholarships. so, while i feel incredibly lucky that neither of us have any loans, it didn't feel like it was just handed to me, either. but some of our friends have loans in the six figures. and honestly, while i'm not sure i'd encourage my son to do that, and i might feel differently if i had a ton of loans, i grew up thinking that college was just what you did after high school, and i want him to grow up thinking the same (honestly, i didn't realize until i was about in 8th grade that there were even other options). college to me was SO MUCH MORE than just getting a piece of paper - i thought it was a vital transition to the real world. it's about growing and learning about yourself, but in a safer environment (by safer i mean, you can make more mistakes) than just putting yourself into the work force. yes, i realize you'd be learning from your mistakes in the work force, but instead of just failing a class, maybe you're not able to pay your rent. big differences, and maybe one of the reasons why the OP says her kids are going to college.

also, where i'm coming from is this: my mom owns her own business. she works her ASS off. i've watched her do this since i was little and i have very little desire to be an entrepreneur myself. i feel like a lot of people think, oh you should be your own boss, it's great. but the fact of it is that the majority of people that are there own boss are working 7 days a week. and have so much more stress than those that aren't. do i know many 18 year olds that are ready for that kind of responsibility, or even ready to work under someone else and have that work ethic and passion that you need to make your way up in the world? um, no. there are some to be sure, but not many.

on the other hand, i do work in a field (computer programming) where there are 17 year olds that i'm sure can do circles around me as far as my job goes. so in some ways, it doesn't make sense to require these advanced degrees for that. but if i was an employer and someone like that and someone with a college degree were applying for a job, i'd pick the one with the degree as i'd feel it's a 'safer' bet. just because someone has the skills doesn't mean they have the needed responsibility and ability to work for and with people. a lot of which i feel like you learn during college when you're growing as a person. the gap between 18 and 22 is HUGE.

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