Short Rant on Higher Ed

Yesterday in the crossover vehicle I was listening to the I’m-listening-to-NPR-am-I-really-that-old-why-aren’t-I-listening-to-music radio station. And it was our local education reporter talking about Colorado higher ed.

Is College Worth It?

Ahem.

YES IT’S FLIPPING WORTH IT YOU YAHOOS MAY YOUR INFOGRAPHICS CLOG YOUR TOILET AND YOU CAN’T FIND THE PLUNGER AND YOU JUST ATE CHILI.

See? Stupidity about higher ed brings out my poop jokes. It’s embarrassing.

Colorado Public Radio’s ed reporter, Jenny Brundin, reviewed the sawhorse about how college costs so MUCH and our economy is so BAD that maybe enterprising youths are questioning the value of that degree.

She did not, despite her being our statewide press authority on education, report on the reasons that college costs so much.

College is not a “bubble” (though I’m enjoying visualizing a college bubble).

College costs have risen so rampantly because public money has been drained away from the education system.

Leaving universities to put increasingly more costs onto individual students.

Impelling them to sell the university as a commodity with all those poor humanities scholars trying to slap some science onto their theory so it seems more applicable to the “real world,” and marketable, and attractive to student-consumers. And administrators building shining facilities like it’s a resort out there on College Hill, and adding and adding and adding student services so that all the 19 year olds are adequately amused and engaged after class. And marketing departments to buffer the brand.

All to get students to want to pay for it. Because the public no longer does.

And they still can’t float, so they hire swarms of adjuncts instead of full professors, and they cut less popular departments, and they cut back on grants.

When reporters talk about the increased cost of college as if it happened in a vacuum, we get idiots blaming elitist professors for it, or talking about a college degree as a commodity like it’s a boat. “But really, is a boat worth the money?” “Well, it depends on the boat, Carterton.”

Instead of blaming their own damn selves for failing to think of accessible, quality education as a public good as crucial to pay for as roads and fire departments.

Jenny Brundin did the almost right thing, saying what thinking people already know: that BAs don’t guarantee a job immediately after college or layoffs, but they do guarantee a better-paying, more-secure job once you finally get one.

It would have been MORE right of her, however, to report a bit more about how higher ed ended up this bloated walrus that everyone loves to poke at. Is it worth it. Is college a bubble. Do professors have the easiest job in the world. Can’t you just learn everything online and still get a Harvard degree.

It’s not Jenny Brundin, who’s just doing her job. It’s everyone who talks about higher ed without thinking like, well, like an academic about it.

Plus then, it turns out that if you ask regular schlubs, (rather than embittered ex-academic schlubs like me,) most people believe that the public (plus employers) ought to kick in more for people to get degrees.

The way they used to. Except no one in the press seems to remember that.

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4 thoughts on “Short Rant on Higher Ed

  1. A.M.B. says:

    Universities are corporations run by people who want to maximize profit. For those administrators, the goal isn’t education, and so they reduce the number of tenure track positions, cut department budgets, increase tuition, and create additional meaningless degrees for students to “buy” (with no hope of getting a job based on those degrees). While I believe in the importance of a college degree, I can see why it isn’t worth it for many people. It shouldn’t be that way.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Technically, most universities and colleges are not for-profit corporations! But they have been getting closer in feel, and in personnel, over the years.

      • A.M.B. says:

        “Non-profit” in name doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in making a profit. It only means they don’t have shareholders (and they get certain benefits out of the status). They fill their boards and the administration with business people who aren’t focused on education. It’s terrible.

      • Elizabeth says:

        No argument from me there! Thanks as always for your comments!

        On Feb 7, 2013, at 7:15 PM, Thinker For Hire

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