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Paladin of Ice

The state of higher education in the United States

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I stopped donating to my alma mater because they've stopped tenure and now rely on adjunct professors. This is a top tier school in the country and one of the best schools in the state. It's becoming all about the bottom line while using high tuition to buy stupid shit to entice students to drop $50k a year for a 4 year resort. It's becoming less and less about the education you receive, even (maybe even especially) at top tier schools.


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The adjunct thing is really widespread. It's awful and I have no idea what to do about it. :(

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If anyone hasn't seen John Oliver's

on student debt, I highly recommend it. He especially focuses on the atrocious practices of the for-profit colleges in the U.S.

The horrific part was when they showed how one such for-profit college was targeting brain-damaged war veterans to sign up for student loans. Sickening.

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It's a little more complicated than that. The fact that student loans are much harder to discharge in bankruptcy is itself a reaction to the fact that student loans, particularly federally subsidized student loans, are basically a form of government subsidy and given out under terms that are insane under any reasonable lending criteria. No sane person would given tens of thousands of dollars to a child with no credit history, at artificially low, fixed interest rates, on the promise of repayment 4+ years into the future, based upon the assumption that a child majoring in art history is going to get a job where he makes enough to pay off the loans. In exchange for giving out loans to lots of people that probably shouldn't have them, you make them harder than normal to discharge.

While I agree with your explanation, I do not see how it is ethical to give this same child majoring in art history a loan of tens of thousands of dollars that is nearly impossible to discharge. You know that a substantial fraction of these children is going to struggle repaying these loans, but many of the children do not (some 12th graders are adults, but many are still children). Why enable them to make a bad decision that will haunt them for years?

Some loans allow you to deelay interest accumulation while you're in school, but that is not 0% interest in any sense of the word. It used to be that interest accumulation can be delayed also if you pursue post-baccalaureat studies but that is no longer the case.

I believe subsidized Stafford loans are still available to undergraduates (though not to graduate or professional students). They defer the accumulation of interest during graduate studies or if you join the military or under several other conditions. In addition, there is a half year grace period after these conditions no longer apply. Since graduate programs in science pay you to either teach or do research, it is possible to pay off the loan without ever paying any interest (that's how I did it). You can also do it if you get a high-paying job immediately after graduation and save enough to pay the entire balance in half a year.

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So, does anyone know why text books cost so much? Back when i was at Uni, I could almost afford my tuition, but the books killed me financially.

Because demand for books isn't affected by price increases, so they increase prices as much and often as they want and kids will pay.

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I wish I was a real, able planning rebel. I'd have planned a book boycott or something. It's rediculous. Also, how they change a couple of graphics in a book and call it a new edition, so you can't buy the used. Bastards.

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I wish I was a real, able planning rebel. I'd have planned a book boycott or something. It's rediculous. Also, how they change a couple of graphics in a book and call it a new edition, so you can't buy the used. Bastards.

This is also on the shoulders of the professors. I would not enforce editions on my students even if my campus doesn't do textbook rental, because rarely is there substantial differences in content to warrant it. The only trick is that when assigning reading, the page counts would vary from edition to edition. Also, graphics will be diferent. But if a student is willing to do adjustments for it then I won't begrduge them using an older edition of a textbook.

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While I agree with your explanation, I do not see how it is ethical to give this same child majoring in art history a loan of tens of thousands of dollars that is nearly impossible to discharge. You know that a substantial fraction of these children is going to struggle repaying these loans, but many of the children do not (some 12th graders are adults, but many are still children). Why enable them to make a bad decision that will haunt them for years?

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2012-01-06/postrel-how-art-history-majors-power-the-u-s-

The simple explanation is that you don't go to school to learn a trade (unless it's a trade school). You go to school to learn how to learn. This rings true for me as almost all of my real work isn't stuff I learned at school, but what I learned on the job. If the only way you could get a loan is having a STEM major you'd have a flood of mediocre engineers and the pay would drop dramatically as the job market became flooded.

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Some professors will assign their own books to classes, basically drumming up sales for themselves. It makes sense on the one hand - the professor is teaching his own course after all - but it's pretty messed up. I at least had one prof who had us buy his books but encouraged us to find used copies or share amongst ourselves.

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Some professors will assign their own books to classes, basically drumming up sales for themselves. It makes sense on the one hand - the professor is teaching his own course after all - but it's pretty messed up. I at least had one prof who had us buy his books but encouraged us to find used copies or share amongst ourselves.

I had a prof that did this... but he printed off and gave the books away to his students in binders instead of having us buy them. It was a $100 book that we paid $10 for paper and ink.

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So, does anyone know why text books cost so much? Back when i was at Uni, I could almost afford my tuition, but the books killed me financially.

Textbooks are expensive to make with low sales potential.

This is another factor on top of the others mentioned.

This is also on the shoulders of the professors. I would not enforce editions on my students even if my campus doesn't do textbook rental, because rarely is there substantial differences in content to warrant it. The only trick is that when assigning reading, the page counts would vary from edition to edition. Also, graphics will be diferent. But if a student is willing to do adjustments for it then I won't begrduge them using an older edition of a textbook.

My impression has been that it's not the professors who want to update to the newest editions but the department or the university or because the bookstore will only stick the newest edition. So officially they have to use that one.

Unofficially I've never met one that cared as long as you dealt with matching the questions from the current edition to yours.

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Consumer Protection Bureau suing for profit colleges over abusive practices.

College and tuition is one of the areas most urgently in need of reform, especially the way it has gone in the last 20-25 years.

The country is falling apart everywhere. We live in era where out transportation hasn't changed for 50 years and we are long control of everything. The only thing protecting America from itself is nationalism and this weird warped religion thing. The progressives were destroyed after occcupy wall street failed whcich wasn't well thought-out. the libertarians are doing more damage then helping. The traditional conservatives are all but dead. These weird neo-republicians don't understand anything. The "liberal” is pretty well uninformed and only cares about social policy- we have lost it. I don't why anybody believes we can turn around either. We have for profit colleges, a military that is largerly strung out- not because of a lack of funding- but because of funding miss use like buying a crap ton of merc's and useless private contractors.

Going back to colleges- I agree with you. What can we do about it? Nothing. We have a disaffected student body that cares more about sports and just accepts the costs that come along with it. Sports aren't an economic boon btw- for the most part they lose money and cause a huge negative flow to the economy. Only 22 teams across the country actually make their schools money. I am not counting accounting profit which is incredibly flawed system- I am referring to economic profit which accounts for everything.

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This is also on the shoulders of the professors. I would not enforce editions on my students even if my campus doesn't do textbook rental, because rarely is there substantial differences in content to warrant it. The only trick is that when assigning reading, the page counts would vary from edition to edition. Also, graphics will be diferent. But if a student is willing to do adjustments for it then I won't begrduge them using an older edition of a textbook.

I don't think it's always true that there aren't substantial differences in content between editions, at least not in psychology textbooks.

All the abnormal psychology textbooks have recently had to be reorganized to match the new DSM-5, for example. The author of the textbook I use in Personality Theory has also made substantial changes between editions -- though new editions of that text have come out less frequently than they do on average.

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On average are private universities considered that much better, that one should choose a private school over the public one ?


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On average are private universities considered that much better, that one should choose a private school over the public one ?

Depends on what you want out of it. If you're going to do graduate work than private schools typically have more notoriety than public schools that can give you a leg up if you want to get into a great graduate school.

If you are going right into the job market though, or plan on doing graduate work at the same school as your undergrad then going to a public uni is probably better. Employers know public institutions more than private ones and if you go to a great school that nobody has heard of they will assume the worst. I had an employer ask if my school was a party school during an interview once and it really showed that my school, as good as it was, wasn't really helping me all that much.

But with that being said, many private schools have better scholarship and grant programs than public ones. It was cheaper for me to go to one of the best private schools than the University of MN in the end.

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Private schools often provide a better raw education simply due to a more favorable ratio of students and teachers - in other words, smaller class sizes. However, this doesn't necessarily actually translate to any tangible benefit in the job market. With that said, all of the top universities in the US except maybe two (Berkeley and Penn?) are private, though very good public universities (as in, top-50 nationally) exist.

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So, does anyone know why text books cost so much? Back when i was at Uni, I could almost afford my tuition, but the books killed me financially.

Now, I'm doing an English degree, which sounds like it would cost a lot in books. I probably paid ~£100, no more than £150, and I bought some really nice copies of the books I needed. That was kind of a relief, because I'd expected to have to pay more (that was for an entire year, I didn't need half of those books until my second semester)

So I guess the reason text books cost more for some people is because they're very detailed and specific books that you can't find in any old bookstore, and especially with medical textbooks - they hold a tonne of information.

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Now, I'm doing an English degree, which sounds like it would cost a lot in books. I probably paid ~£100, no more than £150, and I bought some really nice copies of the books I needed. That was kind of a relief, because I'd expected to have to pay more (that was for an entire year, I didn't need half of those books until my second semester)

So I guess the reason text books cost more for some people is because they're very detailed and specific books that you can't find in any old bookstore, and especially with medical textbooks - they hold a tonne of information.

There were semesters where I paid more for books than I did for tuition, and that was a criminal justice degree. Some classes required 3 books per class (English, history, government, are some examples). Those books were well over $100 each.

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