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"It's Impossible To Work Your Way Through College Nowadays"

Tyler Durden's picture


"It's impossible to work your way through college nowadays" the hard-to-swallow (but not entirely surprising) conclusion of Randal Olson's research into just how extreme national tuition costs have become in the US. As The Atlantic notes, the economic cards are stacked such that today’s average college student, without support from financial aid and family resources, would need to complete at least 48 hours of minimum-wage work a week to pay for his courses.


To better measure the cost of tuition, Olson links to a Reddit discussion of cost per "credit hours" -

MSU calculates tuition by the "credit hour," the term for the number of hours spent in a classroom per week. By this metric, which is used at many U.S. colleges and universities, a course that's worth three credit hours is a course that meets for three hours each week during the semester. If the semester is 15 weeks long, that adds up to 45 total hours of a student's time. The Reddit user quantified the rising cost of tuition by cost per credit hour:


This is interesting. A credit hour in 1979 at MSU was 24.50, adjusted for inflation that is 79.23 in today dollars. One credit hour today costs 428.75.




In 1979, when the minimum wage was $2.90, a hard-working student with a minimum-wage job could earn enough in one day (8.44 hours) to pay for one academic credit hour. If a standard course load for one semester consisted of maybe 12 credit hours, the semester's tuition could be covered by just over two weeks of full-time minimum wage work—or a month of part-time work. A summer spent scooping ice cream or flipping burgers could pay for an MSU education.


The cost of an MSU credit hour has multiplied since 1979. So has the federal minimum wage.


But today, it takes 60 hours of minimum-wage work to pay off a single credit hour, which was priced at $428.75 for the fall semester.

Olson, who's doing his graduate work at MSU, crunched the numbers further to create this graph:



Furthermore, Olson adds,

the average student in 1979 could work 182 hours (a part-time summer job) to pay for a year's tuition. In 2013, it took 991 hours (a full-time job for half the year) to accomplish the same.

And this is only considering the cost of tuition, which is hardly an accurate representation of what students actually spend for college.

As The Atlantic concludes...

Is it any surprise that so many students today are suckered into taking out non-dischargeable loans, in growing chunks, to pay for their bachelor's degrees?


It's more important than ever to make sure that, if you're not working 40+ hours a week at a minimum-wage job while in college, you'll be able to get a better-paying job after graduation.


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Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:32 | 4680494 maskone909
maskone909's picture

Slavery with a smile

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:34 | 4680500 Pladizow
Pladizow's picture

So you  take one credit per semester - let them eat cake!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:49 | 4680537 pods
pods's picture

Are loans more prevalent because of high tuition, or is tuition so high due to easy loans.  

Hope the economic courses at least teach the term financialization.

Make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy and see what happens to tuition.



Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:56 | 4680560 wallstreetapost...
wallstreetaposteriori's picture

Good point.. I think both sides could be argued, but I tend to agree with the latter.  Funny thing is... it was tough to work through school 15 years ago as well....  well maybe you could through state schools or community colleges, but those really don't count.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:57 | 4680562 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

"today’s average college student .. would need to complete at least 48 hours of minimum-wage work a week to pay for his courses."

fortunately, there are fewer and fewer minimum wage jobs, so this is not a big problem

btw .. the average college student is a she. not a he.



Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:02 | 4680570 Tortfeasor
Tortfeasor's picture

If you are a college student, and you cannot find a way to make more than minimum wage, then college is not the right place for you. If you have nothing to offer the pre-graduation world, then you will have nothing to offer the post-graduation world. 

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:15 | 4680591 Number 156
Number 156's picture

They need to factor in cost of living because not every college student has a couch in Mom and Dad's basement to sleep on.

Rent + food + travel + Medical etc etc?
Where I live, Mininum wage barely pays for the rent.  Even with the couch, youre screwed.



Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:27 | 4681372 BustainMovealota
BustainMovealota's picture

Its called paying your dues.  Learning how to scrounge.  Its a lost art now days.  Buck up, know where you don't want to be, and make damn sure you do the right things in life to keep from going back to that time in your life.  Its called working hard and nobody, and I mean nobody, owes you jack shit!

"The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward."


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:01 | 4681464 Ballin D
Ballin D's picture

millenials are paying their fathers' dues in addition to their own right now. Interest is a bitch.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:30 | 4681395 laboratorymike
laboratorymike's picture

In that sense, I got pretty lucky as my campus minister rented out a converted greenhouse for $140 a month. The AC didn't work (the breakers would blow after 10 minutes), but in Atlanta you could not find crime-free rent like that anywhere. Otherwise, all of your minimum wage would be eaten up in rent and food, and you would be biking everywhere.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:01 | 4680736 Monty Burns
Monty Burns's picture

<i>btw .. the average college student is a she. not a he.</i>


Majoring in Gender Studies for career in the HR thought police.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:23 | 4681000 graspAU
graspAU's picture

Add the money from a 2nd game of monopoly to your current game. Do the prices go up? :)

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:34 | 4680501 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture



Unless you work your way through college as a doctor or lawyer...



Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:40 | 4680519 maskone909
maskone909's picture

Im an RN. If we missed more than 3 clinical days we were kicked out of our program. That is, three days in two years. Good luck negotiating that with an employer! All though i did work 18 months of the program. I fucking lived off top ramen

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:50 | 4680538 pods
pods's picture

Have kids and you will get to know all the different types of ramens.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:52 | 4680548 maskone909
maskone909's picture

Shes 4 months pregnant thanks for the heads up but i think that will be banned in this house ;-)

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:57 | 4680561 pods
pods's picture

Get back with me after you price diapers, car seats, etc.



Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:52 | 4680547 Zombie_Economics
Zombie_Economics's picture

My wife was able to do it and yes, she still worked 10-12 12 hour shifts per month, too.  She is now an ARNP and owes not one red commie cent to these educational loan pricks.  No help from family, no help from anyone.  Yes, we also have a son.  It was a team effort in the sense that I picked up slack where possible, but I still contend she pulled almost all of it off on her own.  This is one tough lady with a determination I've never seen in anyone before.  So, I guess I'm just one lucky son-of-a-bitch to have her.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:56 | 4680558 maskone909
maskone909's picture

Hey it takes two. I saw many relationships deteriorate in "the program". U guys should be proud. I wish i had help from family ect but hey we made it cheers

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:32 | 4680678 pursueliberty
pursueliberty's picture

I saw a few deteriorate myself.  I have a ADN, still took four years, lacked 24 hours upon graduation, but the BSN program wasn't available until after graduation.

My total four years of education and 13x hours was less than $30k including books(01-05).  I earned that within my first five months working a little OT and two night weekend shifts a month.  Not many with a degree can say that.  I met a girl wiht a BSN and $60k in student debt from a big name university in FL.  We earned same pay, I just kept a lot more of mine.

I only worked in the field nine months.  I see it becoming over saturated presently.  I'm in middle TN now and have never seen so many NP, like it is mind boggling.  I went on a date with one not long ago and she said the wages were being supressed because there are so many now.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 19:31 | 4681139 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Churning out nurses like nobody's business. Blowing bubbles is what the good ole USA is about these days. The scam now id making all of these 2 year RN's go back and get their BSNs in these RN to BSN programs you do over the internet.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 23:10 | 4681621 pursueliberty
pursueliberty's picture

It really is a scam unless you want to become a NP/CRNA/educator.


Where I worked out of college you didn't get a pay increase for a BSN.  In my hometown where I did most of my clinicals they paid $.50 extra per hour for a BSN.  The numbers for a lot wouldn't add up on a 2000 hour work year if you only wanted to have a BSN.  I lack 24 hours because my first two years of college I was a finance major, so I have all the BS redundant prereqs out of the way.  Even with that in mind, last I looked I be in almost $10k with books for a BSN.  So, in ten years I'd break even, shitty ROI to me.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:03 | 4680573 Agent P
Agent P's picture

or a stripper....God bless 'em

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:52 | 4680544 tempo
tempo's picture

Parents don't cosign, they will take your SS and your house!! More women on food stamps than working so equal pay for equal work BS is a joke.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:10 | 4680594 mc225
mc225's picture

30 years ago in washington state, a quarter with 15+ credits (15 credits being a 'normal, full load') at community college was ~$190 + books. if memory serves, the universities were ~$400 per quarter + books.

what is it, 10x that now? back in the day, the state was paying 90% of tuition. seems like the state has been unwinding its support over the years. 

out-of-state students used to pay roughly 10x more because they were not supported by the state.

anyway, college has always (at least as long as i've been around) been at least partially bunk. it has always had superfluous courses - anthropology, psychology, sociology, etc. - which some committee somewhere had decided would be part of a 'balanced curriculum'. community college in particular could have done without all of these extras, and simply added in more core classes (career training) in their place.

be that as it may, it was fairly cost-effective to get a bachelor's by going 2 years in community college, and finishing out at 'the u'.

i don't know what these kids are doing today.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:34 | 4680499 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Define "work"

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:58 | 4680564 Rainman
Rainman's picture

Getting up and shoveling barrels and barrels of horseshit every damn day.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:35 | 4680505 RacerX
RacerX's picture

That's because a college degree has more value these days.

and yes that was /sarc.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:36 | 4680507 The_Ungrateful_Yid
The_Ungrateful_Yid's picture


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:37 | 4680511 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

A high-priced hooker can do it without even getting out of bed.

And an awesome car salesman can sell 1-2 cars on a Sat.

Sometimes, how you see the problem IS the problem.

p.s. Not everyone deserves to or should get an "elite" education -- or what used to be an elite education.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:54 | 4680555 pods
pods's picture

"I don't usually talk to Duke students, but when I do, I ask them if they need towels."


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:37 | 4680513 youngman
youngman's picture

Just get on the football or basketball team..then its all covered..and you get to play games

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:52 | 4680717 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Oh yea, those ones designed to kill and mame.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:43 | 4680522 Alcoholic Nativ...
Alcoholic Native American's picture

I worked as a cashier at a carwash my first 2 years going to college, after college, I am working at as a cashier at a liquor store.

Moving on up, luckily I make well below the poverty line so they can't dock my pay for student loans!

Retards on SSI make more money than me.  Someone shoot me in the head.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:33 | 4680659 foodstampbarry
foodstampbarry's picture

Maybe you should get into porn. Your pic shows you have an eye for talent.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:36 | 4680673 pods
pods's picture

Nah, that is the degrading nasty ass Fernando Valley porn.  


At least the internet is taking down the porn power brokers, maybe Hollywood will be next:

"The pornography industry began to decline by mid 2000, due, for the most part, to the growing amount of free content on the Internet which undercut consumers' willingness to pay. In 2007, industry insiders estimated that revenue for most adult production and distribution companies had declined 30% to 50% and the number of new films made had fallen sharply."




Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:42 | 4680881 indmotor
indmotor's picture

Stop waiting for someone to hire You and start Your own business! Start with Your own store and when You see a better oportunity, hire someone and start another project.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:48 | 4681412 laboratorymike
laboratorymike's picture

I did this about a year ago. Being able to run out and do a deal when you need an extra $300-500 is nice, and now I'm about to move that up an order of magnitude per deal.

The PhD, if nothing else, gave me a lot of contacts for what I am doing now. I'm also working with friends such that we all are starting businesses in semi-related areas, so when any one of us needs the other's talent, the business stays in the network. Even when we are not in an SHTF scenario, it's good to have friends band together.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:44 | 4680526 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

The biggest lie sold : We are all equal

Slightly less egregious, but impactful: A college Degree makes you more equal than others

Oink Oink!

And I say this as a rather degreed person.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:45 | 4680528 Spungo
Spungo's picture

The dude'll sometimes pay you an extra $50 if you take it in the ass

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:51 | 4680543 The_Ungrateful_Yid
The_Ungrateful_Yid's picture

50 is too much bro, I'd pay no more than 20.00

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:50 | 4680540 CHX
CHX's picture

BUT, they say we need more inflation. Students did not get the memo, apparently.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:50 | 4680542 libertus
libertus's picture

It is only impossible to work your way through school if you go the traditional route. just got approved by the State of Vermont to offer courses for credit. They are also working on becoming a degree granting institution. The business model is solid and costs $500 to $1500 per class. That is a whole lot cheaper and better than the alternative. 

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:54 | 4680549 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Maybe, but...



War is peace

Freedom is slavery

Ignorance is strength


Knowledge is power.

Remember knowledge is not wisdom, so seek both.  If you really can't pay back your student loans, change your identity.  They can't take back the knowledge or wisdom... 

I love it when people say "you can't default on your student loans".

What they mean is you shouldn't default on your student loans.

That which cannot be paid back, won't be, period.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:09 | 4680592 indmotor
indmotor's picture

college is nothing but an indoctrination. The longer u stay in school the less intellegent u become! Period!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:22 | 4680634 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Bullshit.  Big difference between intelligent and productive.  Whatever happened to all the trade schools anyway?  Some of the most productive and intelligent people I have known went to trade schools.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:03 | 4680745 pods
pods's picture

When I think as to where I obtained most of my knowledge it most certainly was from people with working man's PhDs.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:01 | 4680568 Miss Expectations
Miss Expectations's picture

...and then you fail your prospective employeer's credit check.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:04 | 4680576 Caveman93
Caveman93's picture

If I could actually find a way to get my FICO back to Zero, I would. That would fuck with them pretty hard.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:14 | 4680741 Rainman
Rainman's picture

 patience grsshoppa .... on a long enough timeline it will most assuredly dial back to zero..

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:04 | 4680575 mademesmile
mademesmile's picture

Just something to keep in mind before going off on a perceived collage slacker. Maybe what worked a 60 years ago can't in today's economy. For the record, I graduated in 4 with barely any loans - because I worked, got scholarships and grants. But mostly work.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 19:24 | 4681122 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Understand. However it could be a cart and horse thing. If everyone did not run out and take out a shit load of loans, looked at a year or two of CC and things like that maybe colleges would not have been able to jack up the tuition so high.

There were so many parents that never went to college and by golly were so hell bent on sending their precious children to college...whatever the price. Seemed like the poorest and least educated sent their children to little worthless private colleges with the help of Uncle Fucking Sam.

I knew a lot of idiots who took their shot at college. Don't forget the role of government "grants" in this debacle. It is not all loans.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:06 | 4680580 Duude
Duude's picture

Whether you can cover the whole expense ought never be an excuse to not work at all. The average student spends more time partying than working as it stands today, and unless you can command appearnce fees, better off working part time at McDonalds to cover at least part of the cost.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:06 | 4680582 indmotor
indmotor's picture

The longer You stay in shool the less intelegent You become! Don't agree? Take a look at Washington DC and Wall street!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:18 | 4680600 Smegley Wanxalot
Smegley Wanxalot's picture

When I went to school I killed the prereqs at a Junior College and got 3 credit hours per class, semester basis.

From there I transferred to a UC campus that did the quarter system, and the credits transferred at [semester hours x 1.5] = Quarter Hours, yielding 4.5 Quarter credit hours per.  Those same classes were only 4 Quarter Hours at the UC campus, yielding a 12.5% return on credit-hour-investment.

As a result I transferred in after 2 years with 14 free Quarter Hours for classes I didn't have to pay for and suffer thru, packed a few quarters with too many hours, and saved having to sit thru one quarter's worth of bullshit (plus the money paid to those stupid shit profs).

You just gotta know how to play the fucking system a bit.

Oh yeah, the rest of the money I either earned, borrowed (came outta grad school only $8k in debt though), and the folks did kick in about $2500 - I refused to let them pay more, but when I say I earned it I worked my ass off and saved during the JC, and also worked thru the university time. 

No fucking around - just get the degree and GTFO.  The paper is worth shit but it opened doors, and that is all.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:13 | 4680604 seek
seek's picture

My daughter is barely making the math work doing 40 hours/wk at starbucks and doing community college. But she is doing it.

The math won't work even for CC without Pell grants if you're not able to live at home and sponge off parents for food/gas/etc.

At least she was smart enough to not buy into needed a degree from the univerity (or worse, one of the hundreds of private colleges.)

I'd love to know where all those extra dollars per credit hour are going at MSU. I know it's not going to professor's salaries, so my bet is it's payments on construction loans for unneeded facilities (great bang for buck, banker gets underwriting fee + interest, construction guys get profits from building, administrator gets job overseeing prodject.) and admin salaries.

I predict we're less than 5 years away not only from the big reset, but also from a general student strike over tuition. ZH ran a study here maybe a year ago about cost of degrees v. earnings from average salary of the degree, v. investing same money, and pretty much only STEM degrees were net positive. People are slow, but once they figure that out, the higher education system will implode.

While the next bank collapse will be funded by bail-ins, you can be assured there'll be some kind of federal bail-out (with strings attached, like sworn loyalty to the communist party) for major universities nationwide in the near future.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:22 | 4680633 Smegley Wanxalot
Smegley Wanxalot's picture

I was looking a UT Austin's website recently.  Per the site this fine institution employs roughly 28,000 people, 2500 or so of which are professors.  So 91% of their staff are not professors and add little to no value to a student's mind.  In other words, each prof needs 11 support personnel.

THAT is here they money is going. 

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:25 | 4680639 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

In the 90's there were about 30 faculty for each administrator.  I'll let you do some research on what that ratio s now.

It pissed me off and underscores the whole problem with the world today.  TOO MANY CHIEFS, NOT ENOUGH INDIANS...

(and none of that "leadership" is actual held accountable anymore)

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:02 | 4680742 seek
seek's picture

It's definitely a huge part of the problem. I assumed it was like my state, but it turns out I found a bigger problem!

What's fascinating is I went over to reddit and read up on the thread this story came from. Very interesting factoid: in 1999, 52% of MSU's funding came from the state. In 2013, it was 14%. Guess where that state money is going?

Pensions. Another factoid that's terrifying: Since 2007, the reported funding status of the MPSERS pension plan declined from 88.7 percent to 64.7 percent as of September 30, 2011. This represents an increase in the unfunded liability from $5.8 billion to $22.4 billion over the same time period, an increase of 286 percent. 

So they're redirecting funds from schools to the pension fund, and the fund expense is still rising so fast unfunded liabilites went up nearly 300% in five years. JF'nC!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:09 | 4680766 pods
pods's picture

I think the oxygen masks just dropped from the ceiling.

JFC is right.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:47 | 4681421 laboratorymike
laboratorymike's picture

The administrative explosion is coming from two angles. The cheap loan money is one, but the other is the explosion in regulations. As a grad student, I've noticed that every time I order chemicals for an experiment, for example, the paperwork needs to go through purchasing, accounting, EH&S (environment/safety), and my department.

I remember the EH&S department screwing up a university-wide report just once, and the black vans were on their doorstep the next day. So while there is some very obvious waste, there is also a lot of added regulatory cost that wasn't there 30 years ago.

It'd be nice to see what the expenditure breakdown is for each of these categories; they should get some economics grad students on it.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:15 | 4680610 SimpleSimon
SimpleSimon's picture

"It's impossible to work your way through life nowadays".

There, fixed it for you, ZH!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:20 | 4680626 aldousd
aldousd's picture

It's not impossible at a state school. It's only impossible at big or ivy league schools.  When you go to those you don't expect to 'work your way through' them anyway, and never did.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:41 | 4680681 Dark Space
Dark Space's picture

Agree with the overall conclusion, but I never made minimum wage in college. I was making almost twice (94% above) the minimum wage while I was paying for and going to school. I don't know anyone else who was working minimum wage jobs in college either. I went to a pretty standard state school and had a pretty typical job.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:46 | 4680701 Mox E
Mox E's picture

What college hooker works a minimum wage job?

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:54 | 4680724 Rusty Nayle
Rusty Nayle's picture

Go Green, Go White

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:05 | 4680753 Occams_Chainsaw
Occams_Chainsaw's picture

I went to the local university in 1987 for around $500 plus books per semester.  Slept in mom and dad's basement and worked a call center tech support job for a famous printer company (part time) at about $7 an hour maybe $7.50.  Today that same school is $3146 per semester plus books.  You can't find much more than $9 an hour call center jobs around (for those starting out in life) and if you work at BK or Fred Meyer expect about $8 an hour.  Simple math....

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:10 | 4680779 kurt
kurt's picture

Time to get the Rackets out of Education. Rico, Youngblood, Book 'em.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:14 | 4680784 sangell
sangell's picture

Not fair to compare the education at MSU in 1979 with that of today. Besides there being no laptops, desktops or even cell phones, MSU in 1979 was not nearly as diverse as today. While their may have been an Hispanic student he or she would be unlikely to be an 'authentic' mestizo with whose parents were illegal and who had an IQ a least one standard deviation below that of the average MSU student. There would have been fewer blacks students as well to 'enrich' ones educational experience and LGBT students would have been the ones campus police were removing from public men's rooms on sexual perversion charges not student body leaders. No comparison at all with the quality of today's education with that of 1979!

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:34 | 4680852 pursueliberty
pursueliberty's picture

I think you forgot a sarc/ tag bud.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:25 | 4680828 inhibi
inhibi's picture

My gf and I went to a top ten university for engineering. She was on financial aid, but still could not pay for her sophmore year (parents are assholes). So she bunked in my room, and got a refund of 12k. Then I bought a tent, and grew some pot which was another 30k that year. Made money, smoked pot for free, did not attend any classes save for exams, and had some of the best nights of my life.

Now shes in the PhD/JD program and has a masters in engineering. And still to this day, she says that she worked the hardest when she was earning a minimum wage job and going to HS at the same time.


College is a joke nowadays, but the lack of education prior to college is the real problem. Americans learn absolutely NOTHING in HS. 

Case in point: a recent interviewee at work was asked to round to the nearest hundreth and could not do it. And do you think a person who cannot even round numbers has the motivation or smarts to learn on his own? He doesn't. He along with 99.9% of the populace need to coddled all the way to and thru school. Thats the sad fact. Of course, a better earlier education could potentially solve the problem, but the way I see it, college education is the least of all the problems with the education complex nowadays. 

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:36 | 4680860 Smegley Wanxalot
Smegley Wanxalot's picture

Can someone please tell me where Canada is on a map?  I'm an American, dammit, so why the fuck do I need to know what a map is?

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:19 | 4680865 GooseShtepping Moron
GooseShtepping Moron's picture

This is a systemic problem. In one way or another, the education bubble touches upon every aspect of our dysfunctional civilization. It is a ripe topic for an extended essay, but for now I'll just toss out a couple or three observations which I haven't yet seen mentioned in the thread.

1) The HR problem: Why are those college degrees still "worth something" when we all know they represent increasingly less in real-world competence each day? Why do they still open doors, and why are parents and students willing to run faster and work harder to stay ahead of the %14 annual inflation rate just to get the stupid degree, upon which their entire future apparently hangs? Part of the answer, at least, has to be the refusal of companies to do their own training or to vet their own prospects. There is no apprenticeship anymore. HR departments want nothing except prefabricated drones who will toe the company line; the creativity of the human element of the workplace has consequently declined precipitously. This problem reaches all the way back into pre-college education. For many, even high school is largely a waste of time. If you do not plan to pursue a higher education anyway, there's no reason why you shouldn't start apprenticing in a suitable field by the age of 14 or 15, other than that our screwed-up social norms simply don't allow it. Plus, it would give you an early start at earning a living, allowing you to get married and start having children sooner. For more on this, see #2.

2) The fertility problem: There is not a single developed nation in the world with a Total Fertility Rate above the replacement level. This serious problem does not get anything like the attention it deserves. It is much bigger than anything else we routinely talk about; bigger than financialization, bigger than unsustainable debt, bigger than peak oil, bigger than war between NATO and Russia. In fact it is the root cause of all those other things. It is bigger than all our other problems put together, because it portends the ineluctable collapse of our society. You cannot have a future if there is nobody there to populate it. Our young women are spending their prime reproductive years pursuing expensive and useless degrees, and practicing every hideous form of birth control which a century ago was connected only with the unmentioned underworld. Women need to be impregnated not educated—two or three times at minimum, and preferably while they are still young and healthy. And to raise the resulting offspring correctly, they will need the help of dependable husbands who can make a decent wage. For more on that, see #1.

3) The problem of misplaced authority: A liberal education is a means to the end of living happily. To that end, real knowledge must be preserved and passed on. But when "education" attempts to tyrannize over the whole of society as though it were an end in itself, then the meaning and direction of life are lost. Socialism, scientism, materialism, liberalism (social and fiscal), political correctness, democracy, fiat money, feminism—what are all these but creatures of the school room? What are they but "education" let loose from its service to throne and altar, and permitted to roam free in the world of facts and wreak havoc? Was not the French Revolution itself a sort of grandiose seminar swollen into a coup, its "corrections" no longer written with red pencil, but with the blood of decapitated nobles and priests? Education, properly speaking, concerns itself with two kinds of truth-attaining rational qualities: that which is knowable from demonstration (scientia) and that which is useful for producing things (techne). The power to rule, however, belongs to a different quality, that of phronesis or prudence. It belongs to the realm of ethics and manifests itself in that field which we can only shamefully translate as "political science."  A better description, albeit a vague one, would be "the act of making sound policies." When education is no longer fettered by prudence, it shows itself precisely as that which is unable to rule, which is a pretty good diagnostic of contemporary Western incompetence.

Feel free to append your own thoughts.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:33 | 4680996 graspAU
graspAU's picture

Used to be (1990's-early 2000's) you could get a low level job at a big corp, take the tuition reimbursement benefits, go part time at night and come out with your employer paying the full cost. That is if you stayed within the yearly reimbursement limits which meant going 1/2 time at night while working full time (50-60 hrs per week). So six year degree takes 12 years. Also meant you needed the temperance to stay on the job no matter how bad it got. Not many people have the patience to do that.

Now, even if you had the motivation to go through 12 years of part time night school, those jobs with those benefits are about extinct.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:43 | 4681041 I Write Code
I Write Code's picture

I worked through college in the 1970s making about 2x to 3x minimum wage for most of it, earned about 1/3 of my tuition, took loans for 1/3, parents paid about 1/6, school waved about 1/6 and also granted some of the loans.  IIRC

But I think that would work today at about the same proportion - the list price on private schools has gone waaaay up, but if you can't pay it many waive a fair amount, and with a little luck a student can do better than minimum wage.  I think at today's policy I'd have been in line to have about 1/2 of the list price waived.  Dad had the bad timing to go unemployed just about my second month as a freshman ... had a business going reasonably well about the time I graduated.  So it goes.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:49 | 4681052 All_Your_Base
All_Your_Base's picture

I am enrolled at WGU and working. WGU was formed by western state governors as a non-profit online college for Education, Business, Nursing and IT. It costs $3000 per six-month term. It is a different model - focused on job readiness, low overhead, and low tuition. I have been in the workfarce for over 20 years and I do not want my future choices limited so I am trying to improve and prepare now.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:38 | 4681543 plane jain
plane jain's picture

Good for you All_Your_Base.  WGU worked for my the paper certificate for the field he already worked in.  Now he is working for a big university.

Are Belong To Us

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:12 | 4681213 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture




All the money that goes into a loan is IN-FACT "Funny Money" the banks "Extend Credit" of "Borrowers", "Extending Credit" = "Creating money out of thin air for the purpose of lending" Hence "fractional reserve banking".

It's the same thing that happened with the housing bubble, new money out of thin air was created and lent out to people buying homes, prices of homes sky-rocketted and made homes unafordable, now they are doing everything in their power to prevent the bubble from bursting, because the banks will endup with a shit-ton of worthless houses that they wont be able to sell.

What happens when there is demand for product A (education), and Everyone runs out to BORROW INTO EXISTENCE NEW CURRENCY to BUY "Product A"?

The price of product A gets hit with INFLATION.


Student Loans, Education ETC. Are in a FIAT BUBBLE created by rampid loan creation going towards education.


The net effect is:

People who had no business going to college ended up going, and the majority of them took stupid courses like Art, Sex Education, Gym, and other useless shit.

I call it the "Pre-Requisite Circle Jerk" where people / kids are just so stupid they don't know how to manipulate the system to avoid taking pre-requisites.


When I went to college, I took the majority of the final year courses in engineering/computer science and business management in my first year and half.

I took all the pre-requisites IN MY FINAL YEAR, and In-Fact I didn't have to take them all because I had enough credits to graduate!

How did I do this? I skipped the pre-requisites by bribing counselors bullshitting them to unlock my registration account so that I could register for classes I wasn't supposed to be able to take.

If I did not do this, I would of spent on average an extra 15,000$ on education.

The education/college system is a SCAM designed to keep you in school for unnecessarily long lengths of time.

I ended up passing with a 3.6 GPA, supposedly taking classes that were "too advanced" for me, the biggest hit to my gpa was because I had to drop a chemistry class and got a WU because me and the teacher got into a fight and she was giving me bad grades on perfectly fine work on purpose out of spite (so there was no reason to continue going as I was essentially doomed) and did not have the patience or time at the time to fight her (she was an angry spiteful dike).


Its all a scam.

The majority of the lessons in a 4 ~ 5 year  degree will be taught in the first 2 years, the rest of the years are there just to re-iterate the same lessons over and over for no other reason than to suck more money out of you.


I know people who have wasted 20,000$ on College and they are still taking pre-requisite classes ! its insane and these people are not stupid, they just dont have the balls to go up to the guidance counselors and force their hand into letting them skip "the bullshit classes".


If you are in a major city , say like New York , (for some reason I feel like its mostly democratic states); chances are you will not get what you pay for in an education, and you will have to jump through hundreds of unnecessary bureaucratic hoops to graduate each of which will cost you thousands of dollars to jump through.

The majority of the professors in the "cheaper schools" are actually THE SAME professors from the more "expensive schools" and in fact, almost EVERY professor I had in college WAS AN ACTIVE PROFESSOR in a school that costs twice as much as the school I went to, (we used the same text books, same teachers) the only difference was the cost of going.

There is no point in going to a more expensive school , the teachers are paid soo poorly at the expensive schools that they have to drive back and forth and teach at as many schools as they can just to make an ends.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 22:43 | 4681550 plane jain
plane jain's picture

Amen!  Felt the same way about public high school.  If you can pass grammar the first time around (7th grade) why do you have to take it for 5 more years?

The education/college system is a SCAM designed to keep you in school for unnecessarily long lengths of time.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:14 | 4681235 Tegrat
Tegrat's picture

I remember my first semester of state school cost me around $374 (or was it $734?). Books around $400. I was working as a grocery store shelf stocker at around $3.60/hr in 1982-1987. By the end I was taking every other semester off to work full time. Once for the grocery store at $5.10/hr and then the last 3 semesters IRS as a co-op. I remember not having much of a life but I got out in 5 1/2 years with a comp sci degree about $800/debt. My parent's helped by letting me stay home (yes I commuted to state college) rent free.   I realized I could have done that in 3 years as i took every session i could. Fall/Spring AND Summer when not working full time.

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:18 | 4681243 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

The average cost of a first semester in New York in 2014, would probably break down like this

1200$ in classes

800$ in books

120$ in travel costs

I would say at a min. say you really cheaped out on your fist semester you could probably save SOME money and spend maybe a total of 1400$ (cheap out on books go to library etc instead/make scans of pages etc)

What I did in college was I bought one of those portable hand-held scanners, and I went to the school library and scanned all the chapters I ndeeded Each Week, must of saved me thousands of dollars.

The books are over-priced.


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:24 | 4681260 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

What was the IRS like? I am assuming you left.

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 20:21 | 4684830 Tegrat
Tegrat's picture

IRS? It was pretty easy back in my C/Unix days. I left it 6 years later to make my mark and real bucks in the private sector. The move has paid off nicely and would consider  semi-retiring there for the remainder of my career (assuming my trading bot software doesn't get it done for me).  Most of the people who were there still are....


Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:40 | 4681288 grunk
grunk's picture

I gradiated from college '82/83. Lived with the 'rents until '85. Went to night law school until '89 (May 20 - 25 years).

Everybody should go to law school. Not everyone should be a lawyer.

A Disagreeable profession.

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:35 | 4682721 Jim Shoesesta
Jim Shoesesta's picture

Not totally impossible in a state like Florida where in state tution is still an incredible bargain, but just about everywhere else it is. 

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