So, there I was, checking the news at one of my favorite sites. . . .and I find this mentioned:
Geology and Geophysics. So I'm, at least on paper, caught in the middle. But I'm not. Ye Olde Wizarding Schoole only offered BA's in Geo, back then: if I had wanted a BS, it would have had to have been Physics, Chemistry, or some flavor of Engineering. . .
The author of this monstrosity points out that, in some graduate programs, especially in the Hard Sciences and Engineering, teaching a single student absorbs up to 5 times what that student pays in tuition. . . .
Well, in THAT case, let's get rid of "distribution" courses. After all, for the most part, students are generally FORCED to take these, and since we're worried about costs, would remove the costs of professors and departments that cannot justify their costs otherwise. You know what I'm talking about: "Gender Studies". (Insert-ethnic-group-here) Studies. Women's Studies (After all, they never seem to have a Men's Studies. [OK. . . .there IS one place that has such a department. . . ] If they did, I would had scholarship money pay for my college subscriptions to Playboy and Penthouse Letters. . . . )
No, what Academia is starting to realize, is that the Bachelor's Degree, of whatever flavor, has become the basic Job Credential. . . once upon a time, (and by that I mean when **I** was in High School. . .) most jobs only needed a High School Diploma. Maybe Trade School or an Apprenticeship after graduation. Or, alternately, a term in the Armed Forces, where you picked up a skill.
But that slowly stopped being the case somewhere along the line. In the mid 1990s, I started seeing Secretaries, excuse me, "Administrative Assistants" with Bachelors' degrees. And, come to think of it, that was about when "Personnel" morphed into "Human Resources". . . which accelerated the credential inflation process. . .
So what does this have to do with charging Engineers and Scientists more ???
Simple: Economics. Now that the Bachelor's has become the standard job credential, students are doing the math. They are noticing that they can make serious coin if they major in accounting or business, or REALLY serious coin if in certain science or engineering disciplines. Petroleum Engineering, especially, if you're willing to work the Dakota or Texas Shale Gas belts. . .
And they also notice that their pals who majored in English Lit or Queer Studies or such can't seem to find a good job, out in the Obamaconomy. . . but they make GREAT Subway Sandwiches or frappuchino lattes at Starbucks. . . .
Yes, the kids are waking up to the Great Unspoken Secret of Academia: Most of college is. . . crap. Paid for by massively increasing Student Loans (And yes, I **HAVE** ranted on this before. . . . ) And this is leading to the Mother of All Economic Bubbles: the Student Loan Bubble. . .
To make matters worse, those who take, for lack of a more gentle term, USEFUL fields of study generally DO have to pay more. Lab fees. Higher tuition for the higher credit load (I typically did 17-19 credit terms. English Majors ? 15 credits. At a thousand or so per credit-hour, it adds up fast. . . )
This is simply and purely a trial balloon to get more money out of fields of study that generally graduate highly-employable students, in order to shore up the costs of departments whose demand is declining, yet are full of tenured professors that would be difficult to lay off. . .
And so, we turn to a SLIGHTLY more honest effort to do the same thing. . .
It's got the virtue of at least being HONEST about stealing from the productive. . .
The basic idea: Zero tuition, up front. And you pay a percentage of your income (Actually, your Adjusted Gross Income) for 20 years after you leave school. Not Graduate, **LEAVE**. And the rate would differ, 1.5% for community college students, 3% for public universities.
And, of course, Student Loans, if necessary, for Dorms, Meals, and Books.
They actually have a germ of a decent idea here, but they haven't thought it out completely.
So. . .let's look at the Sotarr the Wizard Plan :
1. You pay a fixed percentage of your future income for your college education, for 20 years after you graduate or quit. Go back to school later ? Clock resets. You have the option, at graduation or quitting, to halve the time of payback, for three times the percentage. Bet well, young graduates. . .
2. The percentage is based on your major and GPA: majors are rated by the average income of a graduate of the program, ten years after graduation, multiplied by the percentage of graduates actually employed. The higher-paid and more-employable majors will get something of a break here, but make up for it in sheer volume of dollars paid back.
GPAs are rated inversely: those who perform well pay a lower percentage than those who flunk out or barely pass. Yes, I'm talking an economic incentive to perform well. Make studying hard and "keeping your nose to the grindstone" pay off directly. . . and make the students who major in partying PAY . . .
3. Your percentage ALSO goes down IF you graduate. We need to incentivize effort and perseverance. . . and, frankly, punish quitters. Don't start what you can't finish. . .
4. Special Rules: Athletic Scholarships: win an athletic scholarship, and go to the Pros afterwards, and you owe a flat 20% of all compensation related to your participation in athletics. That includes Endorsement Deals, follow-ons as a TV announcer or commentator, or whatever. You're getting the Big Bucks, and wouldn't be getting NEAR that much if you hadn't played in College.
5. Disability: IF you get hurt to the point where you can't work, the clock stops until you CAN work again.
6. National Service: For every two years served in the Armed Forces on Active Duty (including the Coast Guard) , or in the Public Health Service, cuts a year off your total. Guard and Reserve time ? Three years for one.
This is, obviously, just the skeleton of an idea. But ONE more clause. . .
7. Academic Departments get funding, based on the performance of their graduates. Graduate a lot of people who can't find jobs ?? Get your funding cut. And on the other hand, generate a lot of very productive people out of a given department ?? They now have incentive to keep doing it, and expand. Yes, it WILL play hob with Tenure. Deal with it, the rest of us do. . .
In short, what I'm suggesting is returning economic incentives to higher education, at least in the state-run schools. Want to go to a private university or college ?? You get the equivalent of the same funding a state-school student would have, you're on your own for the rest. Choose wisely. . .
Questions, comments, sarcastic remarks ??
One last bit today. I stumbled across something remarkable yesterday, on the 4th of July. You really ought to read it, so you have some idea of the liberties we enjoy here in the States. I will make no comment, other than it's powerful, and my pointy Wizard's hat is off to the author. . .
- Sotarr the Wizard