Glenn Reynolds: Let’s put colleges on the hook for loans that their students can’t repay

posted at 8:41 pm on December 5, 2011 by Allahpundit

How do you solve the problem of young adults earning worthless degrees and a truckload of debt? Three ways. One: The Chinese way, which, while characteristically direct, is probably too authoritarian for most Americans’ tastes. Two: End federal student loans. Let kids take their chances with private lenders, who’ll need assurances up front before they lay out the cash that they’ll get a return on their investment after graduation. This idea would, I assume, die a grisly death after the first round of “all Jimmy/Sally wanted to do was go to State but he/she couldn’t get the money” stories. Three: The Reynolds way.

This is a simple case of inflation: When you artificially pump up the supply of something (whether it’s currency or diplomas), the value drops. The reason why a bachelor’s degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability is that the government decided that as many people as possible should have bachelor’s degrees.

There’s something of a pattern here. The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle class people.

But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay in, the middle class.

Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them. One might as well try to promote basketball skills by distributing expensive sneakers…

For higher education, the solution is more value for less money. Student loans, if they are to continue, should be made dischargeable in bankruptcy after five years — but with the school that received the money on the hook for all or part of the unpaid balance.

As our Republican frontrunner once famously said, this smacks of right-wing social engineering. And I love it. Or rather, I love the basic idea: Colleges can either pare down their curricula to majors that impart actual marketable skills or continue to push crapola on their own dime. The thing is, I’m not sure it would end up producing more skilled grads than we have now. If forced to choose between revamping their course catalogues and continuing Critical Identity Theory Studies programs, I’d bet 95 percent of colleges would go the latter route and try to absorb the resulting cost of guaranteeing their grads’ loans. Culturally, they simply can’t part with super-soft humanities programs; even if they agreed that some are expendable on their educational merits, they’re not expendable politically. Which school would want to be known in liberal academic circles as the one that thought “Marxist Symbolism in the Music of Badfinger” wasn’t important enough to save?

So what’ll happen, I take it, is that they’ll backstop these loans but shrink their student bodies accordingly to limit their overall exposure — which means some kids who really would have benefited from a college education may be locked out. And after all, the fundamental problem here isn’t that colleges offer degrees in one crap major after another; it’s that students choose to take degrees in those crap majors even though they know, or should know, that it puts them at a heavy disadvantage in a tenuous economy. If you make loans dischargeable in bankruptcy and put the old alma mater on the hook for them, the personal-responsibility calculus arguably gets worse, not better: Students will be even more free to major in crap, which in turns means fewer grads with marketable skills. I guess Glenn is thinking that once you reach a critical mass, where some huge percentage of students is majoring in crap because they know their loans are backstopped, the school will have no choice financially but to eliminate some of those majors. And if student bodies do shrink, the results won’t be entirely bad: Many kids will be spared the loan burden of a B.A., willingly or not, with more cost-effective alternatives to college sure to appear in the market to meet the new demand for higher education. Exit question: Second look at the Chinese system?

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Apply lemon laws to college degrees?

malclave on December 5, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Excellent idea. I bet Salamander uses it within a week.

platypus on December 5, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Make them pay the interest, too.

Good Lt on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

I like Glenn’s idea…the textbook, student loan ocean needs to be drained. My son is a senior in civil engineering with no debt…but we paid through the nose because of the flood of federal loan dollars.

d1carter on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Let the free market take care of it. People need to be responsible enough to choose the correct course of study. I work at a college and I have a child in college and another one a few years behind.

As far as putting the school on the hook for defaulted student loans… how about we put car companies on the hook for buyers’ car loans? Hmmmmmmmmm?

Oink on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Why should colleges be responsible for the products they produce?

Hey, wait a minute…

SouthernGent on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

It would be helpful for media pundits to celebrate craftsmanship in the industrial trades like they promote intellectual academia.

Instead what we get are news stories about some greasy auto mechanic over charging his intellectual superior who knows nothing about cars for some maintenance or repair to the noted intellectual’s broken down Prius.

Skandia Recluse on December 5, 2011 at 8:52 PM

This is what I have been saying. Several times. On here. I think Instapundit is InstaHotAirCommentReader and stole my idea.

ramrants on December 5, 2011 at 8:53 PM

If forced to choose between revamping their course catalogues and continuing Critical Identity Theory Studies programs, I’d bet 95 percent of colleges would go the latter route and try to absorb the resulting cost of guaranteeing their grads’ loans.

I suspect they would amalgamate the loan programs so that the students taking the hard science courses would subsidize ‘Basket Weaving 101′ by absorbing the price increase as a whole.

sharrukin on December 5, 2011 at 8:55 PM

The thing is, I’m not sure it would end up producing more skilled grads than we have now.

I don’t think that’s the intent. That would be social engineering.

Eliminating or reducing the government driven market distortions that are creating unskilled grads with bad debt would be the undoing of leftist social engineering.

It’s a great idea.

forest on December 5, 2011 at 8:57 PM

My guess is that suddenly colleges will change what you have to take to get a well-rounded degree.

I know someone who took Afro-Brazillian Dance to meet his Electrical Engineering degree’s “well-rounded” requirement of a non-European History course. That’s fine for him, but for an English major?

amazingmets on December 5, 2011 at 8:58 PM

I have a B.A. in African Women Dance Puppetry Studies

BobMbx on December 5, 2011 at 9:00 PM

As far as putting the school on the hook for defaulted student loans… how about we put car companies on the hook for buyers’ car loans? Hmmmmmmmmm?

Oink on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

How about we put the student on the hook?

BobMbx on December 5, 2011 at 9:02 PM

Awesome idea!!! I fully endorse.

ted c on December 5, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Let the free market take care of it. People need to be responsible enough to choose the correct course of study. I work at a college and I have a child in college and another one a few years behind.

If the lending institution could assess the risk and had to suffer the lose of a bad loan I would agree with you but that is not what is going on here.

As far as putting the school on the hook for defaulted student loans… how about we put car companies on the hook for buyers’ car loans? Hmmmmmmmmm?

People that finance cars assess the risk and charge interest rates accordingly and they have to either take the hit or repo the car.

You can’t repo education and the finance companies take no risk because the gub’ment guarantees the loan.

Oink on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

This whole gub’ment backing is causing lenders to make sub-prime student loans.

If it was impossible to get a loan for school, tuition would be a fraction of what they are today.

esnap on December 5, 2011 at 9:05 PM

Do it. Do it now.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Exit question: Second look at the Chinese system?
=================================================

With the current,Progressive Socialist Commie Administration,
one wonders,why,they haven’t given it a more look see!!
(sarc)

canopfor on December 5, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Colleges are not interested in education. They’re interested in inflating the amount of money in their “endowment funds”.

Which translates to higher pay for “professors”.

GarandFan on December 5, 2011 at 9:10 PM

The astronomical increase in the cost of college is a racket of unjustifiably easy loans pushed by liberal government to fund their liberal causes on campuses. The cost of the professors have not increased more than inflation, it is the cost of the out of control non value adding liberal bureaucracies that has increased the cost of college. Make the colleges pay for their poor decisions.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 9:11 PM

O/T….Oops!
============

Reuters: Romney staff spent nearly $100k to hide records as governor
32 ins.ago
Hot
Update

http://www.breakingnews.com/
=============================

Romney staff spent nearly $100,000 to hide records
Mon Dec 5, 2011 7:30pm EST
**************************
**************************

(Reuters) – Mitt Romney spent nearly $100,000 in state funds to replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2007 as part of an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret, Reuters has learned.
(More…..)
==========

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/06/us-usa-campaign-romney-computers-idUSTRE7B500X20111206

canopfor on December 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Here’s a better idea: Just get rid of the loans altogether. Then no one is on the hook, and students learn the value of working hard to pay for something you want — whether by working their way through school or earning scholarships, or both. I wish I had learned that lesson when I was 18 instead of going into debt. And as a bonus, the cost of attending college will probably go down, and worthless majors will be eliminated by lack of demand and not by fiat.

Let the marketplace do its job. It never fails.

NoLeftTurn on December 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM

This would be like making a home builder responsible if someone borrowed money from a bank to buy a home and then defaulted on the loan. Or making Best Buy responsible for a credit card default by someone who used the card to shop at Best Buy.

It’s ridiculous.

angryed on December 5, 2011 at 9:13 PM

This is what I have been saying. Several times. On here. I think Instapundit is InstaHotAirCommentReader and stole my idea.

ramrants on December 5, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Young Lady, you beat me to it. I was going to give you some props. You called it and it’s the best idea I’ve heard yet.

They’re the ones raising the tuition, let them pay for some of the mess.

hawkdriver on December 5, 2011 at 9:15 PM

You can apply this same principle to Obozo’s desire to “spread the wealth around”.

KMC1 on December 5, 2011 at 9:16 PM

You know what else the kids can do – treat High School like it’s a path to a free college education. Apply yourself to your studies, a sports team, a service group, prepare for the SAT/ACT & you’d be surprised the scholarships that are available all over the country at private & public schools to good students.

batterup on December 5, 2011 at 9:19 PM

This would be like making a home builder responsible if someone borrowed money from a bank to buy a home and then defaulted on the loan. Or making Best Buy responsible for a credit card default by someone who used the card to shop at Best Buy.

It’s ridiculous.

angryed on December 5, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Did you think this through at all..

People loaning the money in those situations look at the ability to repay the debt otherwise your denied before you pass go.

Same is not true of a college loan…

theblacksheepwasright on December 5, 2011 at 9:22 PM

People loaning the money in those situations look at the ability to repay the debt otherwise your denied before you pass go.

Same is not true of a college loan…

theblacksheepwasright on December 5, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Yes, and the solution is not making colleges back the loans. The solution is to restore the responsible lending practices of the free market by eliminating federal involvement in student loans.

jhffmn on December 5, 2011 at 9:26 PM

What Reynolds is saying here is interchangeable with an economic zero sum game. Those who say the economy is not a zero sum game should be able to believe that we can all have college degrees and live upper middle class lives.

Buddahpundit on December 5, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Did you think this through at all..

People loaning the money in those situations look at the ability to repay the debt otherwise your denied before you pass go.

Same is not true of a college loan…

theblacksheepwasright on December 5, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Really? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac look at the ability to pay the debt? Try again amigo. Fannie/Freddie will lend to people who use welfare as “income”.

angryed on December 5, 2011 at 9:29 PM

Really? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac look at the ability to pay the debt? Try again amigo. Fannie/Freddie will lend to people who use welfare as “income”.

angryed on December 5, 2011 at 9:29 PM

Umm, I think that was the point. Fannie/Freddie are not free market entities, but are, like federally subsidized higher education, government interference in what should be a free market.

AZfederalist on December 5, 2011 at 9:43 PM

Genius idea. So for car loans, should it be the dealers or the manufacturers? And for mortgages, should it be the real estate agents or the builders? And why stop with loans, why not figure out who to scapegoat for the debt people run up on credit cards while we’re at it.

ProfessorMiao on December 5, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Really? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac look at the ability to pay the debt? Try again amigo. Fannie/Freddie will lend to people who use welfare as “income”.

angryed on December 5, 2011 at 9:29 PM

\

aaaaaaaaaaaaaant… wrong again &*%^ for brains

Like student loans, Fannie and Freddie could go about things willy nilly.. why..

let hear a buzzer..

The answer is:

Cuz the loans were backed by the federal government.. ergo: taxpayer…so Fannie and Freddie had and have nothing to lose

Market weren’t allowed to rule the day..

theblacksheepwasright on December 5, 2011 at 9:48 PM

No, this is like making the home builder responsible when they take shortcuts in construction and materials to fund a lavish sales and marketing budget resulting in a substandard, below code housing division that people buy into due to false advertising and claims, only to find out in a few years their homes are falling apart and are worth 25% of what they owe.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 10:00 PM

So the education bubble has the same cause as the housing market bubble (and probably will have the same result), and instead of learning from recent history and addressing the problem (federally backed loans) we come up with legislative kludges to address the symptom?

We’re doomed.

jhffmn on December 5, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Or rather, I love the basic idea: Colleges can either pare down their curricula to majors that impart actual marketable skills or continue to push crapola on their own dime

Do we really want a world like this? We have a society where people only do the things that will make them a boatload of money? Get ready for a world with no literature or philosophy, only a bunch of accountants and middle manager types.

TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:16 PM

We can turn off the loans going forward, but there is still the issue of holding someone responsible for paying back what is currently owed. And the lying false advertising colleges need to be a part of paying what is owed.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 10:18 PM

Get ready for a world with no literature or philosophy, only a bunch of accountants and middle manager types.

TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:16 PM

What passes for state funded art we can well do without. There was art and literature well before big government involvement and the quality was far superior.

sharrukin on December 5, 2011 at 10:19 PM

A world with fewer philosophy and literature majors working at Starbucks will be a world with fewer liberals who feel the world owes them a high paying job for their useless overpriced major.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 10:20 PM

O/T….Oops!
============

Reuters: Romney staff spent nearly $100k to hide records as governor
32 ins.ago
Hot
Update

http://www.breakingnews.com/
=============================

Romney staff spent nearly $100,000 to hide records
Mon Dec 5, 2011 7:30pm EST
**************************
**************************

(Reuters) – Mitt Romney spent nearly $100,000 in state funds to replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2007 as part of an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret, Reuters has learned.
(More…..)
==========

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/06/us-usa-campaign-romney-computers-idUSTRE7B500X20111206

canopfor on December 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Can you blame him? Democrats are the evil party, that is all they know… They would pick over the data on the existing computers to find any needle in the haystack they could.

Dasher on December 5, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Do we really want a world like this? We have a society where people only do the things that will make them a boatload of money? Get ready for a world with no literature or philosophy, only a bunch of accountants and middle manager types.

TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:16 PM

How can you claim the world will be without literature and philosophy when both predate federally backed loans?

jhffmn on December 5, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Huh.

So colleges should pay for loans if the students default on them?

Really?

Since most colleges are public, and public funds are some of the most fungible things in the world…

Does this not imply that the American taxpayer should pay for loans if the students default on them?

Courts to College: “Pay the loans.”
College to State: “We need more money to pay for our expenses.”
State to Federal: “We need more money to pay for our education program.”
Federal to Taxpayer: “Give us more money. For the kids. Oh, and the conservatives thought of this one.”

This is a poor solution to a real problem.

Scott H on December 5, 2011 at 10:25 PM

The problem is, if the government isn’t in the student loan business, who pays for college?? No bank on earth is going to give a 17 year old a loan for $80, 000. Not even to become an engineer or a chemist. So, no way anyone could ever afford to go to school to become a poet or an actor or a musician. Heck, no bank on earth is going to give anyone a loan to pay the absurd amounts charged even by state schools these days.

Unless we fundamentally change the way colleges work, how much they cost, and the dumb demand that every worker you hire has at minimum a B.A., I doubt there’s much that can be done.

TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Many colleges, public and private, have committed fraud. Therefore they have some responsibility in giving back some of the funds they fraudulently took. Fraud is fraud, it’s a crime.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 10:29 PM

TheBlueSite: Chicken and egg, and not a pretty one. The reason that universities cost $80,000 is because of government-backed student loans, and in general the poor lending practices of banks in this area.

I agree some fundamental things must change, but the education bubble is no more sustainable than any other bubble, and therefore we can either change it now with some moderate pain, or wait for it to burst and deal with the huge pain.

I’ll give anyone 5:1 odds who is willing to place money on any politician successfully addressing this issue before it bursts.

Scott H on December 5, 2011 at 10:32 PM

ray: As I understand it, for an idea like this to work, you would have to hit universities in areas where they care. For example, require that the loan monies be paid by the principal extant in their endowments. That might work, but even then, I doubt it.

If you don’t do this, the universities will pay back the taxpayer money they took by fraud with… taxpayer money given to them by the federal government. There is no real payback there.

Scott H on December 5, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Scott H on December 5, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Exactly. College costs skyrocketed at a certain point, and it’s fairly easy to guess when.

We screw kids over the way we set things up. It is, in fact, terribly difficult to compete in any field without at least a BA. But, everyone and their brother is getting a BA (most of those who are should never be in a college classroom to begin with), so the new BA is the graduate degree. So, you’re forced into a situation where, to make enough money to have a decent life, you have to get the money for a BA and a graduate degree.

Then pray you get lucky enough to land a job to pay it all back.

TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:36 PM

Here’s a better idea: Just get rid of the loans altogether. Then no one is on the hook, and students learn the value of working hard to pay for something you want — whether by working their way through school or earning scholarships, or both. I wish I had learned that lesson when I was 18 instead of going into debt. And as a bonus, the cost of attending college will probably go down, and worthless majors will be eliminated by lack of demand and not by fiat.
Let the marketplace do its job. It never fails.
NoLeftTurn on December 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM

I agree with you except in this point: College loans were never intended to help students, as much as to help liberal profs and admins enjoy an artificially created ‘higher standard of living’ for themselves than they could ever have in a real capitalist, competitive employment setting.
In a sense, student loans are a convoluted money laundering opration; taking taxpayer money UNDER THE GUISE OF STUDENT LOANS (which they know their students are probably going to end up defaulting on), and transfering it to the liberal college profs and admins.
But your first line about getting rid of student loans all together is the thing to do, as I see it.

listens2glenn on December 5, 2011 at 10:36 PM

So, no way anyone could ever afford to go to school to become a poet or an actor or a musician.

TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:28 PM

You shouldn’t go to college to become a poet, or an actor, or a musician, unless you can afford to do so with your own money. They are not paying propositions which is why so many of those poor saps end up slinging burgers. $80,000 for a Burger Technician doesn’t sound like a bargain to me.

sharrukin on December 5, 2011 at 10:36 PM

While I like the idea, I also think students and parents should be told about a school’s ROI – in short, what is the chance of you landing a job after graduating and what is the average salary. Getting students good paying jobs after graduation is a factor when business schools are ranked, and I don’t see why that metric should at least be reported, if not incorporated into a school’s overall ranking.

When a person completes their degree and only uses the skills they’ve developed in an abstract manner, the program does not produce a scholar for its field of study. The program dies on the vine – regardless of whether one strips the funding for the program or not.

pt on December 5, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Why should colleges students be responsible for the products they produce debt they take on?

Hey, wait a minute…

SouthernGent

FIFY

How about we put the student on the hook?

BobMbx

How dare you? That would imply some sort of personal responsibility on their part. Apparently conservatives don’t believe in that any more either.

xblade on December 5, 2011 at 10:57 PM

Why should victims of fraud expect the criminals to be responsible? How dare we blame Bernard Madoff and put him prison when it was the investors who are responsible for what they do with their money?

It’s not the colleges fault they told falsehoods about graduate placement and salary, that they never mentioned they would underfund the useful degrees while over-funding the useless, that they would waste the student’s moneys on lush offices, large administrations, huge salaries and all the perks of millionaires.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 11:26 PM

I prefer the Bankruptcy approach. W exempted student loans from bankruptcy back in circa 2005 as a gift to his banker buddies. Student debt needs to be put back under the auspices of bankruptcy court.

If this were to happen, it would immediately make the banks (who lend the money) financially interested in the education being delivered at our nation’s pool/beer halls. They would promptly start asking tough questions of the schools, who would have to fall in line and begin producing graduates with skills useful to their fellow man or find banks unwilling to fund their students.

In practice, this means that two megalithic institutions which are now dedicated to inflating the college bubble would be vigilantly working to deflate it. Less useful majors would be eliminated, with only the most popular (read: traditional) of the soft fields remaining for the rich kids and superlative students who can afford to indulge themselves in “self-enrichment.”

Anticipating the “responsibility” objection to allowing bankruptcy, we as a society protect every other kind of debt except child/spouse support. There’s no reason why we should hold as immutable a brainwashed 18 year old’s decision while allowing 40 year old gamblers and credit card champions to walk. Bankruptcy is a part of capitalism – the anus, perhaps, but still a part. A seven year black mark on one’s credit is not something that someone who wants to work or move out of their parent’s house undergoes willingly.

HitNRun on December 5, 2011 at 11:43 PM

HitNRun on December 5, 2011 at 11:43 PM

Sound reasoning. That could work well in the long run.

ray on December 5, 2011 at 11:50 PM

canopfor on December 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM
========================================

Can you blame him? Democrats are the evil party, that is all they know… They would pick over the data on the existing computers to find any needle in the haystack they could.

Dasher on December 5, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Dasher:Yup,the MSM Goons are try’n hard t dig up,any dirt!

canopfor on December 6, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Let the free market take care of it. People need to be responsible enough to choose the correct course of study. I work at a college and I have a child in college and another one a few years behind.

As far as putting the school on the hook for defaulted student loans… how about we put car companies on the hook for buyers’ car loans? Hmmmmmmmmm?

Oink on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

A bad analogy that makes the point.

Most car companies have financial subsidiaries that are on the hook for bad loans. You can bet they don’t loan to dead beats. And they can repossess the car. And most car companies, even today, aren’t owned by the government.

InterestedObserver on December 6, 2011 at 12:17 AM

I guess Glenn is thinking that once you reach a critical mass, where some huge percentage of students is majoring in crap because they know their loans are backstopped, the school will have no choice financially but to eliminate some of those majors.

Or they could just limit the number of majors in a given program. Right now, someone at a university might have high enough grades to get into a humanities program but not an engineering program. Raise the bar to the former. (I’m tempted to say “…and lower the bar to the latter,” but if schools are on the hook for the unemployed, a major program isn’t going to want to take on too many people who are likely to drop out and thus become a financial burden to the university.)

calbear on December 6, 2011 at 1:34 AM

As far as putting the school on the hook for defaulted student loans… how about we put car companies on the hook for buyers’ car loans? Hmmmmmmmmm?

Oink on December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

-
Well… there are warranties… and lemon laws… I’d like to see something along those lines.
-
Another problem is the way they will pass students who are really not up to the grade… That also cheapens the degree’s value. If they failed those that couldn’t keep up though… think of all the money they’d lose.
-

RalphyBoy on December 6, 2011 at 1:57 AM

Dollayo on December 6, 2011 at 2:05 AM

I’m just starting the day, and I’ll spend a good portion of it laughing all over again at The 10 Most Worthless College Majors.
Hilarious and TRUE. : )

listens2glenn on December 6, 2011 at 5:32 AM

Liberal Arts colleges were the required filter to enter the world of the marketplace at a higher level of broad based classical education.

Now, for the most part, they have become mere bastions of those 60′s radicals rejection of Western Judeo-Christian civilization and are now better recognized as propaganda mills-hurdles that pay far too lucrative salaries and pensions to those who for the most part reject what made America great-God, family, hard work, perserverence, and a common understanding of right,wrong,and truth.

Seeking truth is no longer the goal, nor is it allowed to be spoken or debated when referring to politically correct issues -a damning indicator of corrupted goals and pure folly to call it education. Rather than seeking truth, one could well argue that distorting truth is their goal -certainly in most cases -the result.

One way or the other (grants,tuition support, etc.)the subject choice is either inane or pointedly indoctrination of young minds for the socialist state.This follows year of preparation/indoctrination in failed government controlled schools.

It would serve America well to do away with the failed system.It breeds Godless, socialist, angry politicians and their parasite minions that live in symbiotic moral squalor with them.

Don L on December 6, 2011 at 7:15 AM

I suspect they would amalgamate the loan programs so that the students taking the hard science courses would subsidize ‘Basket Weaving 101′ by absorbing the price increase as a whole.
sharrukin on December 5, 2011 at 8:55 PM

I’m still PO’d that almost 1/2 of my 6 1/2 years of college was a waste of time.
Art fricking History? I got an A to look at slides of art. I’m still pi$$ed off about that.

The problem is, if the government isn’t in the student loan business, who pays for college?? No bank on earth is going to give a 17 year old a loan for $80, 000. Not even to become an engineer or a chemist. So, no way anyone could ever afford to go to school to become a poet or an actor or a musician. Heck, no bank on earth is going to give anyone a loan to pay the absurd amounts charged even by state schools these days.
Unless we fundamentally change the way colleges work, how much they cost, and the dumb demand that every worker you hire has at minimum a B.A., I doubt there’s much that can be done.
TheBlueSite on December 5, 2011 at 10:28 PM

do you really ever read out loud what you write?
You should. Bcs I am confident that you would understand just how stupid this whole paragraph you wrote sounds.
I know Scott above addressed part of this, College Is Expensive Bcs the Federal Govt Subsidizes It!
Just like they have made Health care expensive, so has the Fed made a College Education Unnecessarily Epxensive!
Wow! What a conept!
Then of course, somone addressed the 2nd stupid statement you made, about not being able to go to college to be a poet, etc.
That is a luxury. Poets don’t need a degree if they’re good. And if they want to get better, then they go get a job & make some $$ to go to a poet school somewhere.
I have a cousin who is an excellent potter. He did not go to college until later & only then bcs he anted to learn from his chosen masters in a little school in NY. He was really pi$$ed off the college made him take basic classes he was already more than proficient in.
When he got to work with the masters, he quit. He did not finish his ‘degree’ bcs he knew the degree was worthless.
It was the experience he wanted.
And he was forced to pay for $hit he did not want.
That’s a RACKET.
If you dry up the Federal Subsidies for College, you WILL force colleges to fundamentally change the way they work.
If there is a demand for Poet School, there will still be one.
And I guarantee you it will be good. Rather than the $hit we have now.

Badger40 on December 6, 2011 at 8:08 AM

While I like the idea, I also think students and parents should be told about a school’s ROI – in short, what is the chance of you landing a job after graduating and what is the average salary. Getting students good paying jobs after graduation is a factor when business schools are ranked, and I don’t see why that metric should at least be reported, if not incorporated into a school’s overall ranking.

That’s a good idea, but unfortunately some schools falsely claim that a certain degree will get them said job by producing numbers to appease a certain association and receive more money. For example, a Masters in Library and Information Science degree will be pushed by certain schools towards prospective students, claiming that there is a “shortage” of librarians due to the retiring “baby boomers.” They do this in order to create an illusion of job shortages so they can get more students and more money. Plus, the American Libray Association is the main body behind these claims and they are responsible for crediting the institution for certification. Then, the student finally graduates while piling the debt and realizes that there are no jobs, at least not as many as claimed. Too late. I know, because that is where I was a few months back. Lesson learned.

RDE2010 on December 6, 2011 at 8:09 AM

*Library

RDE2010 on December 6, 2011 at 8:09 AM

I would like to add that I did not continue to pursue the degree because I realized it was not worth the investment. That is not to say I do not believe in some sort of certification or vocational study for librarians, but that I do not feel it is necessary to obtain a Masters in this field, especially given the price.

RDE2010 on December 6, 2011 at 8:11 AM

RDE2010 on December 6, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Thanks for pointing all this out.
It is the consumer’s (student) responsibility to purchase what they know they can use. If they are too stupid to understand that, shame on them.
I try & guide my HS students, starting with the freshmen, to choose careers that are in demand.
I have them do exercises now & then with the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
We look at salaries vs education vs the price of that education.
We look at earnings over time & how long it takes to recoup the cost of the education.
We look at 2year programs vs college etc.
I talk to them about loans and such.
I am the science teacher.
But our ‘counselor’ does NONE of this.
He is worthless.
I do not think college is but for a few students.
The rest do not need it.

Badger40 on December 6, 2011 at 8:16 AM

The 10 Most Worthless College Majors

20 Most Useless Degrees

Dollayo on December 6, 2011 at 2:05 AM

Thank you for providing those links. I love being told that what I considered a good experience was “useless.” College isn’t supposed to guarantee a job. Some of us actually knew that prior to getting our “useless” education.

RDE2010 on December 6, 2011 at 8:20 AM

Badger40 on December 6, 2011 at 8:16 AM

I am glad to see that you consider 2-year colleges. I currently work at one and they are doing very well right now. Not to mention they provide many skills used in careers that do not require four-year degrees. I agree that college is not for everyone, but I do have a problem with some suggesting that it is completely worthless to pursue degrees of interest. Just as there are people who are not cut out for college, there are also people who do not fit well in businesses or private sector jobs. Some are creative or more inclined towards public service. My B.A. in English may be viewed as impractical by many, but it was my own experience and I do not ask anyone to enjoy it other than myself. Does it get me a job? Probably not. But that is not why I got it in the first place. I think the main problem is that students are going to college for the wrong reasons.

RDE2010 on December 6, 2011 at 8:25 AM

The Chinese way,

Ha. I thought they were talking about the “real” Chinese way, which is to have the college student report to the local official on their home visit and justify the expense of their US education. The government takes a very personal interest in the students that get their education abroad.

2L8 on December 6, 2011 at 8:31 AM

When my son was looking at colleges & universities, I was appalled by some of the degree offerings. Esoteric specialization qualifying the graduate for their parent’s basement. And, only $200K!

roy_batty on December 6, 2011 at 8:50 AM

I have to admit that I agreed with a lot of the points made in the article and comments.

Here’s my hybrid approach…

Get government out of student loans, and encourage the colleges to make the loans directly instead. That puts them on the hook for the results if they wish to open up a program beyond just the few that can finance it themselves through private loans.

dominigan on December 6, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Glenn Reynolds: Let’s put colleges on the hook for loans that their students can’t repay

This is an interesting idea – albeit one that ultimately removes personal responsibility.

Let’s not.

rukiddingme on December 6, 2011 at 10:03 AM

“Marxist Symbolism in the Music of Badfinger”

Dang, that’s funny.

holygoat on December 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Then, the student finally graduates while piling the debt and realizes that there are no jobs, at least not as many as claimed. Too late. I know, because that is where I was a few months back. Lesson learned.

Good point. The reporting on the business school side actually comes from the alumni themselves from student satisfaction surveys. So in your case, you could voice your concerns there and it would be conveyed in any reporting. Then the school would have to explain why their graduates were not getting the jobs that they had been trained for.

pt on December 6, 2011 at 11:05 AM

So what’ll happen, I take it, is that they’ll backstop these loans but shrink their student bodies accordingly to limit their overall exposure — which means some kids who really would have benefited from a college education may be locked out.

Yes, they will shrink their student bodies, but I doubt that many smart, poor kids will be left out. Mostly, the rich will still be able to send their kids to flit about for four years, which is fine – the rich also send their kids to flit around Europe.

Colleges will continue to pay for smart, talented, poor (or middle class) kids: that has been going on forever, happens now, and will continue to happen.

No longer, however, will mediocre kids from non-wealthy families be able to attend college and major in something totally impractical, like Art History. The non-rich just won’t have the luxuries of the rich, and four years of expensive, impractical education is a luxury, not anything that benefits an individual’s finances nor society as a whole.

Roxeanne de Luca on December 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

all majors are crap majors except for a handful of majors like engineering and some hard sciences, beyond that, most majors serve no purpose except as something you have to do before grad school.

kaltes on December 6, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Rather than change classes, I’m sure they’d just work more on helping students get jobs, maybe even pushing it to the point where they force students to agree to take a “reasonable” job or something so that they can force students to take things they might otherwise reject. Student loan payments are usually less than rent or a car payment, so even someone just barely above min. wage might still be good to pay it back.

And there are plenty of jobs who like a degree and aren’t particular about the major.

So we’d basically be in the same situation we are now just with more hand holding from the university and less responsibility for the student to make good life choices. Still better than nothing though.

Esthier on December 6, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Each college is doing what it can to compete, just like corporations do what they can (lobby for subsidies, favorable regulations, etc) to compete given the rules.

The solution is to change the rules to cut out government interference which currently incentivizes – nay, necessitates – the collective creation of a bubble by colleges, and the lobbying by corporations trying to stay about water.

Individual on December 9, 2011 at 4:06 PM