And it’s raining hard. The decision made over time to place almost all the financing of education on the backs of the students is contrary to the practice in much of the world. It has had terrible consequences. College graduates are no longer able to make a wide variety of decisions as to what jobs to take, they must take the most profitable or profitable enough to stay even with their debts.
It forces students to choose the most profitable fields of endeavor and imposes horrifying penalties on those that make the wrong vocational choices. If you chose correctional officer as a career over the last two decades you scored, good job prospects, low but steady pay and a good package of benefits (if you avoided working for a private corrections company). But if you chose journalism you are probably eeking out a living as some minor paper shuffling prole. In that case, your debt load is crushing and is never going to go away.
You see, in a very real way, going for a higher education is gambling. There are no guaranteed professions or majors. History, economics and technology can shift winners and losers dramatically in a very few years. You can take many times more financial damage from a wrong choice in a college career than you can in a dozen gambling binge visits to Vegas.
But get this, when do people get to decide this critical decision? Usually when they have the least experience and knowledge – just out of high school.
I would be curious as to what the psychological effects of that kind of debt are over time. This is not just any kind of debt, creditors have power with this kind of debt they have with no other money owed.
They have counseling sessions to warn you about the consequences of student debt, that’s almost nothing compared to what’s needed. What is needed is an explanation of the risks being taken. Students should be told that double majors in different fields will significantly improve their chances of survival in a changing economy. They need to be told that income varies widely not by ability but by geography. It is much easier to pay off student loans with a salary earned on the coast. The more you move toward the center of the United States, the lower your income and the more a burden student loans will be. When I read the estimates of what college graduates will make based on national estimates, I just laugh. The job might have a starting salary of $44,000. Yeah, right. That’s about 65k to 70k in a state like New York and 24k in Kansas or Oklahoma.
We can do this better, but as usual the great intellects of the beltway will scream, “personal responsibility” over and over again. You see, the phrase, personal responsibility, means that no matter how deliberately misinformed, how unfair the deal, how distorted the situation, how manipulated a body of citizens are, it is irrelevant.
There is another word, we use in this country. It seems to have fallen out of favor. It’s called fairness. That means that we have to take into consideration the circumstances of the decision that led to the contract.
That means that when a college prints up thousands of pretty pamphlets selling their very expensive program in broadcast journalism so that you can become a television anchor, a job where there are only a few thousand jobs in the entire nation, we as a society get to ask some tough questions. Questions like “How much are you making selling this program?” “Were these students properly advised?” – that is, were they informed of the job prospects? Is there any data, any data at all, about successful employment out of the program?
Adherence to contracts is important, but so is fairness.
via iRok Fashion