Education and student loans

Well, I spent the afternoon grading student papers for my ethics class at Kent State. But, hey. Things could be worse. I could have be watching golf on TV. Other than Tiger Woods I can’t name a handful of other pro golfers. Although Gary Player was at Augusta Thursday and Friday. Remember him?

And I expect many students were working this afternoon to come up with enough money to pay for at least some of the cost of their college education. I was reminded of that fact this morning. The Akron Beacon Journal had an article by David Giffels, “Banking on a degree,” that really shines the spotlight on a big problem: students are working more, taking on more debt and facing a job market where “wages have declined dramatically for most college graduates as they start their careers.”

Eric Fingerhut, the chancellor of the Board of Regents, provided details two weeks ago of a 10-year strategic plan for higher education in Ohio. I’ll admit I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. Ten-year strategic plans seem like the things dreams are made of. But let’s hope there is something in there that helps students and their families manage the cost — without, as the Beacon Journal headline says, “taking on crushing debt for higher education.”

I also saw in Parade this morning that a psychic in Albuquerque, N.M., makes the same as a teacher in Fairhaven, Mass.: $38,000 a year. Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be…teachers.

But here’s an idea. While the state works on its strategic plan, let’s hire the psychic. Maybe she can see a more immediate solution to this problem.

I say this because I believe education is important. It’s important to the students as individuals. And it’s important to Ohio — where we have an older population and an economy that doesn’t help to attract or retain college graduates.

Something has to be done to allow students in Ohio to attend and graduate from college without taking on such a large amount of debt that it compromises their futures.

And something has to be done to get students in high school to the point where college is an alternative in any event. As many as 50 percent — particularly in urban areas — don’t even finish high school. That folks is a national crisis — and shame.

So while we continue to spend around $3 billion a week in the Iraq debacle, remember the college students who are working hard and still going into debt by about $20,000 on average when they finally graduate.

I’m not sure that all of us as classroom instructors always take into consideration how tough it is these days for students to balance classroom demands with the realities of the costs of higher educations.

And I’m not sure that college administrators realize this either. Otherwise they wouldn’t be taking outrageous trips to Europe — or giving highly paid adminstrators special tuition benefits.

Bring on the psychic.

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3 responses to “Education and student loans

  1. Another problem is that many people are reluctant to get graduate degrees in many arts AND science fields because of the crushing debt and paltry salaries facing them upon graduation. I mean, why get a Masters degree or PhD in Physics and become a teacher when you spend your whole life paying off your student loans? I can’t tell you how many students I have that say to me–well, I would love to become a teacher, but I just can’t afford it. And these are 18 and 19 year olds that know that truth about their life already. In addition, their solution is to become a finance or business administration major. But who’s going to do the teaching? It’s a sad state in this country where education (as that grand pursuit for betterment and enlightenment) is devalued. And tragically, that old Socrates adage: “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think,” is just not how (we) think about education in America anymore. Alert the poets!

  2. Colleges and universities set tuition rates based on the potential financing a student can receive instead of what the

    student can pay out of his own pocket. This price gouging due to all the free money available. Well the bubble has burst.

    Tuition rates need to be based on the ability students to repay without figuring in any financial aid.

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  3. Great post, Rob. I see it’s already attracted a comment from a brilliant young scholar and a college loan shark — but no psychics. You’d think they’d know about this post by now.

    Let me add one more point. While college loans create financial problems for new grads, the high cost of college imperils the experience itself. Students forced to work 2 jobs while carrying a full load of classes can’t possibly get the most from their education. There isn’t time for the readings, the research and the reflection required (alliteration is for Penzilla).

    Here’s the next worry: Are we, as college faculty, expecting less from our students because of the time constraints placed on them? Are we “dumbing it down” to help them graduate? If so, it’s a double tragedy, as students pay more and get less.

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