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December 07, 2008

Rising costs of college

The Star’s recent article reporting that both Kansas and Missouri are receiving an F in college affordability is no surprise (12/3, A-1. “College burden piled on families”). But don’t expect things to get better.

The recent call for a possible 15 to 25 percent cut in the higher education budget is going to devastate public higher education and make college even less affordable. This after Missouri colleges and universities have already drastically cut spending after recent cuts in state funding.

How is it that in tough financial times we have tax dollars to spend on tax breaks and bailouts for big corporations, yet can’t fund higher education so that it’s affordable? How is it that we reward the people who created the economic crisis while hurting the very people who are already in pain?

One of the reasons is that many lawmakers believe that higher education is a private good and they would want nothing better than to see public education privatized. Then only the children of the well off will be going to college. That’s not the way forward.

Scott Laurent
Kansas City

Comments

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

I would not as an example hire someone with a J.D. simply because they have one and assume they are all knowing. It would very much depnd on the requirements and expectations of the position, the person, cohesiveness, etc. My point is just that there are equally as many intelligent, smart, eloquent individuals without degrees.
I have met equally savvy and clueless on both sides. Like my friend that went to Yale and has a Phd, he is NEVER wrong, everyone else is wrong unless you are a Phd. This is the case regardless of the subject matter in his case.

Sammy

No disagreements with that, NNMNG. It all matters. I to hire the person for the position, not the paper. You never have perfect information when making a hire. A college degree doesn't provide perfect information, but it can add to the picture. Of course, as the earlier posts mentioned, it could add more if colleges were more selective about who they awarded degrees to.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Sammy not everyone in college 'can get things done". many students can "get by".
Someone being a good test taker or suffering from infromation regurgitation does not merit them being more employable than someone else. AS a recruiter I looked more at experience first, not to say I did not consider education credentials.
Much of it depends on the industry one is recruiting for and the position. Hiring people verus hiring paper is still an important component.

Pub 17

And the problem for a recruiter is pinpointing what those differences are. I have every sympathy.

Sammy

There's definitely a wide variation in abilities with people who hold the same degree. The degree isn't so much for what the person knows, but rather a signal if they have initiative and can get things done.

Pub 17

Well, you were halfway there, at least. Who the hell cares what a Bus Ad bachelor's student knows or says about ANYTHING? I taught enough of the little newts to know. They sleep through Econ 101 and 102, and refuse to take 201 and 202, which is where you start to learn about market structure, tax theory, and most important, the elements of serious-a$$ed macro.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

I agree with you, I used to be a recruiter. Paper tiger after paper tiger. I confirmed what their abilities were versus what "certification" they had. Real world scenarios, at least half of the paper tigers knew very little about real world application. Sorry, you simply can not be advanced in 6 months or even a couple of years in a skilled trade. Functional, yes, but not mastery level. One of the selling points of labor unions is apprenticeship.
I mean anyone with a business undergrad shold have learned that higher taxes, targeting profitable companies for confiscation and sending thugs out to beat down non-gang members are not prudent and amicable fundamentlas of enterprise.

Pub 17

Again, it would be nice if HR departments could run a test to see what skills a person had inside his brain. What's on the resume? Ho, ho, that's rich, as they used to say in the forties. Creative Writing 101. What a person's former boss says? You MUST have run up against this one: please dial this number to get start and stop dates, and if you're a premium subscriber we'll throw in salary information.

All you can do is what you can do, and you CAN confirm degrees and GPA's, and you KNOW many firms don't even do that, they take what's on the resume.

I would not be in HR for all the T-bills in China.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

I am not knocking education, what I am saying is that sooner or later we end up being short sighted with paper tigers. Discarding someone simply because they may not have a degree in a field that really does not require one is not only short sighted but arrogant. Someone applying for a field in which they do not have a degree to match should discard them by default if we are going to go that direction. What about experience? What about realtionships in which prospective applicants may have depveloped that can benefit the company? There are many other factors. Raising the bar is a matter of opinion, Good Will Hunting comes to mind. The Harvard regugitator for example. I have a friend that attended Yale, he think he is hot stuff but has NEVER had a job, he always "consulting" and consulting on subject matter he knows nothing about. I will not go in public with him because all he does is tell everyone HE WENT TO YALE!

Sammy

Pub 17 - Good analogy with the concert. Of course, nobody would stand up in the first place, or attend the concert, if it wasn't worth seeing, which brings us to the answer to Engineer's question: Demand.

People get college degrees because the degrees are worth it. Demand for college degrees keep increasing for several reasons. As you point out, it's an ante for many jobs. Also, cost is cheap relative to the benefit of higher lifetime earnings. The relatively good economy of the past two decades has made more parents able to pay for their kids' college. Financial aid has also increased demand.

I wouldn't knock University of Phoenix. I have two degrees from two large traditional universities and I've taken a few courses at UoP for the convenience. I've worked ever bit as hard in the UoP courses as I did at the traditional universities.

Pub 17

It's not trophies. It's LITERALLY raising the bar. Last year's gold medalist doesn't qualify this year, at the same height. Part of it is the need to sort through incredible stacks of applications: in 1988 posting a new position in the department I was in, earned PhD minimum, would get 15-20 apps. Six years later, when I left, 1500-2000 apps, and that was BEFORE online applications. You CAN NOT POSSIBLY go over two thousand apps one by one and rank them on the basis of geniune merit, you have to have some excuse to toss ninety percent of them.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Whether the University of PHX, MCSE, NAU, Harvard, KU, makes no difference.
You prove my point, let's define "qualifications".
Sure, I'll take the 23 year old Magna Cum Laude with the degree in Aerodynamic Enegineering and hire them over a pilot that Aced in Vietnam. Right. I agree with what you are saying about HR but disagree with your endorsment of trophies for everyone.

Pub 17

Sigh.
If you stand up at a concert, you make the guy behind you stand up, and the guy on his left and the guy on his right, which makes the guys behind THEM stand up, until the whole crowd has to stand to see.
If you have one guy walk in the door out of a hundred who has a college degree, and HR hires them for that reason, then everybody has to get a college degree for the next job that's offered, so that the playing field is again level and the candidates can be chosen on the basis of their other qualifications.
It's easier for HR departments to do the easy thing and go for credentials to winnow the applicants, rather than examine them carefully for actual qualifications, which is why retarded operations like University of Phoenix have suddenly exploded across the country handing out degrees to anybody with twenty grand.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

If there are 100 positions in a given skillset and 1000 people with the credentials to fill those positions, the value of those positions goes DOWN not up.
What does going to a concert have to do with college tuition? Nothing.

Pub 17

If one guy stands up at a concert to see better, everybody ends up having to stand up. TFB.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Then again, when EVERYONE has a degree, the value of a dgree will decrease. College is not an entitlement. Eng makes a great point, WHY is tuition on the rise and outpacing inflation? Why are some institutions more than others for a pretty much equal education. Why are there no caucasin only scholarships?

Pub 17

1) Tenure
2) Setting salaries by peer-institution comparison rather than value added.

Engineer

Perhaps a better question is "Why have College costs increased so much faster than the rate of inflation and the rate at which other costs have increased?"

 
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