Recently, 20/20 had a segment on College education. It was looking at how so many people get an education and then have a hard getting a job (“College: Worth the Price of admission?” January 16, 2008). I usually agree with John Stossel on everything he reports, but this report was just misleading in my opinion.
What could have been an interesting expose on society’s unnecessary classification of people – how society exalts those with degrees and looks down on those with trade school education (which was touched on briefly), turned out to be a weak argument against the already weak argument that college degrees earn you more money in general. Of course, they had to pick on how colleges aggressively recruit people with the promise of more money. Isn’t every business out there guilty of trying to accentuate the positive? But they had all of these people up there talking about how they were duped in to getting a college degree that is now worthless, with big debt on top of that.
The problem was, so much of the report was just on getting a job in general, not on the money people make. And of course they had to parade the worst examples in front of everyone. One guy was tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a Meteorology degree. Meteorology? I took that class in college and the professor joked about how unmarketable the actual degree is, and how low the pay is in most cases. There was another girl with big debt and a degree in Human Development and a guy that wouldn’t say what his degree was. Wonder why? People – you get a degree that is not in demand – what do you expect?
Of course, they also highlighted how people could make more money in trades. Well… duh! Sometimes you go to college to get a degree in a field you enjoy, like education, knowing that you won’t make the big bucks.
The problem here is the same with people that sue McDonald’s for making them obese. People don’t want to take personal responsibility for their mistakes. They want to blame the big guy… in this case, a college. They didn’t want to do their research and find a good degree where there is strong demand, or to maybe work a job while in college so that they won’t have to live off of loans.
John Stossel, give me a break on this one. College is not all about making more money. Find some people that went back to college to get a better degree and then didn’t earn more money, and then you might have a case. Or focus on the people that are not making what they thought they would. And focus on holding people accountable for the degrees they get and the debt they accrue – the colleges are not holding guns to their heads and forcing these things on them.
Another recent story really made me scratch my head. It was from the Philadelphia Inquirer (“A four-year college, strictly educational“):
As college students face mounting college debt, leading education officials yesterday proposed a new kind of higher education institution that would offer a “low-cost, no frills” bachelor’s degree.
No sports teams. No extracurriculars. No super gymnasium or plum dorm room.
No extras at all.
The schools instead would offer an accelerated, year-round program much like a community college, but they would offer four-year degrees as opposed to two-year associate degrees.
Does this sound familiar. Wait… let me think… Oh, right! It’s almost exactly like an online degree. Except you have to go sit in a classroom somewhere at a certain time to learn. So, distance education without the “anytime, anywhere learning” bonus? Ouch….
Some people just don’t get this education thing….
Matt is currently an Instructional Designer II at Orbis Education and a Part-Time Instructor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Previously he worked as a Learning Innovation Researcher with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His work focuses on learning theory, Heutagogy, and learner agency. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.