Sunday, April 24, 2011

Education: America's Most Overrated Product

USA Today: Gross oversupply of science PhDs: Only 13% get tenure-track U jobs, and there are few corp jobs:

WSJ: Yet more on why getting an MBA may be ill-advised:

Unlike what the colleges try to manipulate us into believing, here's how average folks CAN find good jobs:

Don't like your college financial aid "award?" Appeal.

Black 4-year grad rate @ Cal State U's is just 6%!! Should we provide yet more support or redirect weak apps to 2-yr coll, OTJ trng, etc?.

The Economist joins chorus: Higher Ed is a Bubble: the degree, the education, even the vaunted research:

CNN: A record high 85%(!) of college grads are feeling forced, jobless, to move back in with their parents.

15 well-paying careers requiring just a two-year degree:

The College Report Card: A great tool for deciding which college to choose:

PayPal founder Peter Thiel: We’re in a Bubble... and It’s Higher Education.

Forbes/#CCAP: Govt upping finan aid moves $ from taxpayer to colleges, NOT to students--colleges simply up tuition:

Forbes/#CCAP: Your tuition pays for things other than your educ: e.g., professors' arcane research.

WSJ: Great piece by Dilbert's Scott Adams: Most students need to learn how to run a business

I just wrote what I think is my best article on how to become successfully self-employed: an un-MBA:

To dramatically improve higher ed, require all colleges to post my College Report Card on itself;

Harvard study: BA nor MA ups teacher effectiveness. Per my recent tweets, it's ever clearer that educ is overrated.

I'm watching professor Rufus Fears on Churchill You can cherry-pick world's best instructors on YouTube, TED,

Washington Post: it may be wise to skip higher ed: . Higher ed cries out for reinvention.

And the exposing of higher ed continues. This time it's in The Atlantic:

Finally: U.S. senator demands law schools to stop lying about their employment stats;

Major authoritative new study says that students learn little or nothing at college.

My lecture at U.C. Berkeley: America's Most Overrated Product: Higher Education:

Yet another piece on why college is overrated

Finally, HERE is an article of mine, America's Most Overrated Product: Higher Education, which first appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education and was republished in a number of other places. I like to think it encouraged the current examination of higher education, which had been America's most underexamined icon.

I want to thank readers of this blog, for example, Peter Christensen and Mark Drevno for sending me a number of the cited articles. I apologize for not recalling the other contributors' names.


CK said...

The problem with this post is that it looks too much like a post from Instapundit that features his typically backward logic. The conclusion comes first and, when the "evidence is gathered," lo and behold it speaks unequivocally in favor of exactly one conclusion. Really? Is there no counterveiling evidence that might lead us to the opposite conclusion? Imagine you were somehow arguing this in front of the Supreme Court and the other side had hired the most capable lawyer in the nation: What would he say?

Let me be clear: I think that on net we have an education structure with bad incentives for piling on ever more certifications of dubious worth and then suckering parents and students and even the government into spending too much for it. But, I think that this is true on net and there are some powerful arguments on the other side. For instance, here are the results of a Chinese study that ranks the top 500 universities in the world. Now before you look at just the top 50: can you guess how many are American?

Marty Nemko said...

The evidence for the efficacy let alone cost-effectiveness vs opportunity costs of education is truly paltry yet that is grossly underreported, hence this post, focusing on why education indeed is overrated.

Regarding American universities' ranking, most of that is reputational rather than based on research demonstrating value-added for students, or even of the vaunted research. If one looks dispassionately at the cost-benefit of the corpus of education, especially in the social sciences and humanities, one would indeed have to concur that education, indeed is America's most overrated product.

My Ph.D. from Berkeley is in the evaluation of education, and there are few things in the world I am as certain of as the assertions made in this comment and that of the articles cited in this and my other posts, articles, and books on education. Education IS America's most overrated product.

Anonymous said...

So glad to see people are realizing there's a problem with education; they have to admit there's a problem before they're motivated to fix it. Sorry they're just now coming to that conclusion on their own instead of listening to you 20 years ago.

Please keep hammering on this. Yes, fix higher ed because it's embarrassingly broken and expensive, but also continue the critique of ed in general. The high schools are granting diplomas to illiterates. I know this because I edit for an online magazine for career professionals and just received an article submission that was so poorly written (organizationally and mechanically) that it was almost unintelligible. I know the writer made the submission to fulfill a class requirement and does not consider herself a professional writer. However, the scary part is that this person works at a community college and has just completed a credentialling program that ostensibly qualifies her to be a career paraprofessional. How can she help someone else write a cover letter if she herself cannot turn out a well-constructed sentence?

The failure of the high school diploma as guarantee that the possessor has basic skills just means we have to create another guarantee that is more meaningful. I speak of WorkKeys, which certifies "job readiness" in terms of language, math and thinking skills. Its sidekick, KeyTrain, contains the lessons by which participants can improve their skills. Hello? Wasn't that what high school was for?

Lest your readers think I don't know what I'm talking about, KeyTrain is used in the career center I manage. As for the career paraprofessional program, I teach in it. (Though the article writer was not my student.)

My roommate reminds me that Frank Zappa said, "Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mundane educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts."

However, I think the solution is not to give up but to make schools and colleges accountable. Your College Report Card is a step in the right direction.

ST said...

I enjoyed all these links and then the links within them (not to mention all the dozens of comments typically after many of the blog posts). I'm still working on them.

Jeffrie said...

Another article to consider from the New York Times. This focuses on law school, but I can imagine that a similar trend could happen among undergraduates.

"How hard could a 3.0 be? Really hard, it turned out. That might have been obvious if Golden Gate published a statistic that law schools are loath to share: the number of first-year students who lose their merit scholarships. That figure is not in the literature sent to prospective Golden Gate students or on its Web site."

Perhaps that detail, "the number of first-year students who lose their merit scholarships," should be included on your college report card, Marty. It's a clue to the student about how difficult the material can potentially be, even to a 4.0 first-year student.

The article also states that about 1 in 4 law students have a merit scholarship, up significantly from a decade ago.

Why? NYT blames the US News college rankings.

Matt Stapleton said...

Marty, It is an overrated and overpriced product that is in dire need of restructuring. After reading "Beached White Male" in Newsweek and "The Latest Bubble" in the Economist I have to wonder; what is the point.

I enjoy your work,keep it up.

Jeffrie said...

Right now I'm watching this on CNBC. Too bad they showed it there and not on NBC during Sweeps month.

Marty Nemko said...

Yes, Jeffrie, I've written about this a number of times, calling it the Drug Dealer Scam. (To see my writings on it, just Google that phrase.) The college gives you the first dose free to get you hooked (enrolled) and then, the next year, pulls the scholarship.

Anonymous said...

Add another to the list: The University Has No Clothes