generation limbo: 20-somethings today, debt, unemployment, the questionable value of a college education

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I think about this stuff all the time not only b/c of my job but because I have kids, & because of my egalitarian leanings I'm somewhat ambiguous about it but I think my kids are gonna do super well in this brave new jobless world b/c they've lived in other countries, speak multiple languages fluently, are super smart especially at math, & have a sense of how "wide" the world is: so that if what's needed is to open a business in say Malaysia they're just gonna do it---this is that whole "new global elite" thing that I posted about sometimes, & it's pretty much gonna rule to be those people, so I dunno

whereas for many of my students, they're hoping to find office-y work in Dallas & they have no real special skills to offer because they majored in psych or soc or heaven forbid business & they're not particularly worldly or quick on their feet & the world's just gonna eat them alive...but they're happy for now. I dunno, I worry about this "generation limbo", not for my family but because I work with these people & for better or for worse I ~care~

Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:13 (seven years ago) link

so that if what's needed is to open a business in say Malaysia they're just gonna do it

Uhh nothing from kindergarden on up teaches the on-the-fly skills you'd need to make yr way in the world in another country, without significant (family) assets behind you. My experience w education is exactly the opposite -- they rly don't want to have to deal with kids who have traits that wd suit them for quick thinking/acting or high levels of adventure/excitement/flexibility.

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:16 (seven years ago) link

I mean if you want yr children to be world adventurers, take them out of school, move to Mozambique, and make them be friends with street kids who'll teach them how to pick pockets and lie convincingly.

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:17 (seven years ago) link

nah but my kids have already made their way in another country, is all I mean

Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:17 (seven years ago) link

ok but those white collar jobs aren't gonna be around long I think---we'll automate or outsource them soon, next ten years top

who's the techno-utopian now?! (I pretty much agree.)

I think it's important to look at our college education system in the bigger economic context - the future of white collar labor and economic inequality has more to do w/ bigger political and economic processes than w/ what any given college can do.

maybe the most dispiriting thing about teaching where I do is how unambitious my students tend to be---those kids are gonna be fucked because they just wanna drift & then slide into some boring but ok paying office job, & the economy's just not gonna support that anymore

but it's hard to blame 18 y/o kids for not being able to predict these things - 'college' worked for americans for 50 years, and it still 'works' for almost every traditionally successful person you'll meet.

but I don't get how you can be so hard on these kids and still ultimately defend the bigger system - I mean atm your job is teaching these kids, which in turn depends on them wanting to purchase the college degree signal. how many 18 y/os in nebraska (I am just gonna pretend you live there) want to pay 7k (the bargain price, these days...) a year to learn about philosophy?

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:18 (seven years ago) link

yeah it seems sort of unfair to call the students you teach "unambitious," Euler; it seems more like they're inheriting a really uncertain future that likely adults in their lives have not fully understood/been explicit with them about. i can understand head-in-the-sand-i'll-just-ratchet-down-my-expectations responses to that even if they're not the best response.

horseshoe, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:19 (seven years ago) link

xp what iatee said

horseshoe, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:19 (seven years ago) link

I'm an unambitious college student, but at least I'm an electrical engineering major and not a philosophy major.

Battlestar Gracián (crüt), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:20 (seven years ago) link

I have lots of extremely smart multilingual friends who are good at math and the only ones who are abroad these days are teaching english, not starting the malaysian facebook

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:21 (seven years ago) link

re. how many kids want to pay that much to learn say philo; a fair number! we get them jobs because they learn how to write well & how to reason well; other degrees besides math & maybe bio I'm inclined to agree about.

I don't think it's "our university system" that's failing these kids, I think it's our culture, our parenting, our cultivation, our attention, that's failing these kids

Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:22 (seven years ago) link

there is more student loan debt in america than credit card debt

that's a failed system

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:24 (seven years ago) link

I know how to fix it
more credit cards for everyone

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:26 (seven years ago) link

BOOM

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:26 (seven years ago) link

& another thing: going to college at least used to be a decision for the risk-averce: high costs, high opportunity costs, with pretty much a guarantee of steady if not spectacular repayment of that risk. so we tend not to get the "entrepreneurial" types nor do we train people to be entrepreneurial. we train the future servants of the corporate state. so horseshoe's right: it's a lot to expect college students to have figured out that this has changed, that the costs aren't gonna buy off life's risks. but we need to do that, somehow.

Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:27 (seven years ago) link

crut, i predict a future for you in designing and making thousand dollar analog synthesizers for the hipster offspring of Lamp's shoe-buyers

sarahel, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:28 (seven years ago) link

there is a part of me that def identifies w/ euler's POV, insofar as i think cultivating risk-taking as a skillset would potentially bear fruit in brave nu world of lame economy

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:31 (seven years ago) link

and the underlying assumption is that anybody could teach, given the opportunity and necessity. It's the only job in the world that everybody thinks they know how to do!

increasingly folks think the same thing about lawyers. why do you think legalzoom and handling cases as a pro se litigant are so popular?!?

Murdered plants communicate with a bowl of shrimps in another room! (Eisbaer), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:31 (seven years ago) link

like, and that can be as simple as encouraging/mandating multilinguilism and labor mobility around the world, i don't know

xp

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:32 (seven years ago) link

cultivating risk-taking as a skillset would potentially bear fruit in brave nu world of lame economy

In order for people to be motivated to take risks, apart from having thrill-seeking brain chemistry or something, they need to start from a place where the outcome of a failure to act is WORSE than the outcome of the failure of the endeavor. P much risk-taking starts with things being really shitty. So I guess we're on the right path?

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:35 (seven years ago) link

some start-up $$$ isn't bad, either.

Murdered plants communicate with a bowl of shrimps in another room! (Eisbaer), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:36 (seven years ago) link

universal health care makes starting a business a lot less risky

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:37 (seven years ago) link

In order for people to be motivated to take risks, apart from having thrill-seeking brain chemistry or something, they need to start from a place where the outcome of a failure to act is WORSE than the outcome of the failure of the endeavor. P much risk-taking starts with things being really shitty. So I guess we're on the right path?

― brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, September 3, 2011 1:35 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark

i think so!

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:38 (seven years ago) link

Primary text for study: Simplicius Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen.

Aimless, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:38 (seven years ago) link

what types of businesses are we talking about, here? Etsy storefronts and things like Elfster?

sarahel, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:39 (seven years ago) link

Buying children and selling the parts.

Aimless, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:41 (seven years ago) link

I think about this stuff all the time not only b/c of my job but because I have kids, & because of my egalitarian leanings I'm somewhat ambiguous about it but I think my kids are gonna do super well in this brave new jobless world b/c they've lived in other countries, speak multiple languages fluently, are super smart especially at math, & have a sense of how "wide" the world is: so that if what's needed is to open a business in say Malaysia they're just gonna do it---this is that whole "new global elite" thing that I posted about sometimes, & it's pretty much gonna rule to be those people, so I dunno

lol i wonder if my parents sd the same thing and ive spent the last couple of years living below the poverty line

i do think that the academy cant really do much abt the relationship of labor to capital in a ~globalized economy~, nor really can how you raise yr kids (other than to be wise and realistic abt the world i guess), im genuinely ambivalent abt the ability of real wages to increase in the next ten years period idk

Lamp, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:44 (seven years ago) link

universal health care would be a huge boon toward encouraging the kind of risk-taking I'm envisioning

Euler, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:45 (seven years ago) link

Buying children and selling the parts.

Oh yeah that's the other thing that happens to street kids whose parents don't have the resources to secure their children's futures.

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:45 (seven years ago) link

re: what kind of businesses/ventures: honest answer, i don't know...maybe more nanotech engineers taking root in developing countries, expats starting tex-mex restaurants in mumbai, more nonprofits starting schools for girls oprah style, dollar and a dream type shit

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:47 (seven years ago) link

my secret dream is to start a good burrito place in paris

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:49 (seven years ago) link

nobody steal it

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:49 (seven years ago) link

nobody fucks with my masala dosa with refritos and guacamole

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:51 (seven years ago) link

a non-ilxor just posted this on my wall

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2011/features/the_college_forprofits_should031640.php?page=all&print=true

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 18:51 (seven years ago) link

the guy that article's about seems like an amazing dude

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:00 (seven years ago) link

unrelated to the subject at hand but still, wkiw

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:00 (seven years ago) link

if he had any free time

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:00 (seven years ago) link

maybe this is heedless point scoring against the eisbars and morbs of the political threads but i dont see how you can read about how the obama admin finally held for-profit colleges accountable in that article & say that even if you were in a battleground state you wouldnt vote for him in the coming election -- / continue in other thread

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:17 (seven years ago) link

iatee, thankin u for that link. Just posted it to my brother, who has two degrees in film production and is looking at getting a teaching cert instead.

brb recalibrating my check engine light (Laurel), Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:18 (seven years ago) link

The chief regulatory threat to the for-profits coalesced in the form of something called the “gainful employment rule.” The federal Higher Education Act states that, in order to be eligible for federal aid money, career-oriented schools must “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” And so the Education Department set out to define “gainful employment” as a ratio of student loan debt to income. If students weren’t earning enough in the workforce to service their debts after leaving a school, the idea went, then the school should not be eligible for aid. The very premise of the rule shook the foundations of the for-profits’ business model. Their stocks dropped to four-year lows.

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:18 (seven years ago) link

ya, felt a lot better about obama's ed policy after reading that, altho i still think arne duncan sux

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:19 (seven years ago) link

Those who do graduate from Western Governors credit their mentors with being the single biggest factor in their success. Playing a role with no real analog in the wider world of higher education, WGU’s mentors operate from home offices and kitchen tables scattered across the country. (But unlike the armies of adjuncts and graduate students who do most of the teaching at both for-profit and traditional schools, mentors work full-time with benefits.)

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 19:37 (seven years ago) link

not a big fan of arne duncan either

horseshoe, Saturday, 3 September 2011 20:13 (seven years ago) link

that's an awesome school! seems like more of a 'supplement' to the traditional 4 year college rather than a replacement, so far

dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 20:53 (seven years ago) link

a supplement when we're looking at 'the american college system', but on an individual level it would be a replacement for some people, and ultimately, some schools. harvard will exist in some form 20 years from now - the best 'signal' money can buy, a gdp-sized endowment, rich people are doin alright etc. etc.

but can public and private schools outside of the 'admissions tournament' 10% survive if a significant % of 18 y/os decide that WGU (etc.) is a better investment? esp w/ a political culture that seems intent on reducing both public subsidies to universities and research.

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 21:17 (seven years ago) link

right - but as the article mentioned, the worst performing of WGU enrollments were precisely the 18 y/o fresh high school grad demographic. of course there could be many explanations for that - if it could draw on a larger pool of students than it does now, picking up some of those whom are now going to mediocre 4 year colleges, that might change things.

otoh the question with online learning is where does the motivation come from - it's easy to see where it does for the person profiled in the article and others in his age range, it's a little harder to conjure up for younger people. but hey, like we've been suggesting in this thread - maybe 2-3 years of independence after high school will be enough to motivate twenty somethings to go back to school and get a degree?

also the assessment/competency based system will lend itself better to certain subjects and not others - not sure how some of the subjects traditionally taught in the liberal arts would be, for example.

not trying to shit on the school! just thinking some things through. but some cynics would say that all they've done so far is create a cheaper, online (and more efficient) version of night school.

dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 21:32 (seven years ago) link

(also, don't mean to denigrate night school or adult education in any way! just trying to place it in context of this discussion.)

dayo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 21:41 (seven years ago) link

one big problem with college is that up until people turn like 21-22 they are all huge morons no matter what theyre doing

max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 22:07 (seven years ago) link

p much true

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 22:15 (seven years ago) link

hence my big "work on a farm" plan

max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 22:17 (seven years ago) link

also solves: obesity, bullying, having to see teenagers out on the street

max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 22:17 (seven years ago) link


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