Saturday, July 26, 2008

No Sucker Left Behind

By Richard Vedder

The title of this blog is the title of a book by Marc Scheer. It is a guide written for parents and students preparing for college. If you think I am a little harsh on colleges, you haven't seen anything. Scheer's critique would drive most of my Establishment friends up the wall, attacked for being a polemical screed that fails to capture all that is good and noble in higher education. To be sure, Dr. Scheer uncovers virtually every scam and tactic used by colleges to maximize their income and minimize their obligations to their customers, and certainly scholarly balance is not present in his commentary. But it is still an interesting little book, and is pretty well documented (over 800 footnotes).

Scheer believes colleges deceive their customers --big time, and in dozens of different ways. They use financial aid as a device to maximize income from the customers rather than help the needy, as we are told. They take kickbacks from student loan providers to whom they steer students to borrow from --often on poor terms. Students think they are going to school for four years when in reality it is more likely to be longer --five years or even more. They often lie to donors, using money for different purposes for which gifts were intended. They force students to pay extra fees for things the students don't want, like activity fees to use recreational facilities or attend athletic events. They force the students to eat crummy dorm food that is overpriced and non-nutritional. They charge far more for housing than market conditions warrant, using their monopoly power to exploit students. They use low paid graduate students, many who speak English poorly, to teach, while tenured faculty do not find undergraduate students worthy of their time and attention. They overstate the alleged financial gains from a college education --big time. Scheer points out many great American successes never finished college, including in the computer business alone Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Steve Jobs. Etc. etc.

I do think Scheer overdoes things a bit, occasionally exaggerating and implicitly assuming that virtually every college does nearly all the outrageous things outlined in the book, when in reality most of them do only some of them occasionally. He fails to point out very often that there are a lot of good and decent people in the higher education business who truly want to help people maximize their intellectual or economic potential. Nonetheless, I think he is right to call attention to the fact that colleges are not always the saintly institutions interested in student welfare that they would like to have you believe.

In any case, Scheer's book is available from the Common Courage Press, and is a lively, if somewhat inflammatory read --and, unfortunately, more right than wrong.

7 comments:

capeman said...

Somebody just sent me the lone review of this book at Amazon.com. Take a look. I love it!

Melissa said...

Editorial Reviews

Book Description
The book that colleges don't want you to read.

No Sucker Left Behind is the only book that blows the lid off colleges' scandalous price-gouging schemes. Marc Scheer reveals colleges to be profit-obsessed businesses best approached with the wariness reserved for used-car salesmen. From the application process to the undergraduate years and all the way through graduate school, Scheer shows how universities trap students into high costs and unmanageable debt. Most important, he arms students with innovative tools to fight back and get a valuable degree for less.


Includes more than 100 online resources for students.


Caveat Discipulus - Let the Student Beware!

From the Back Cover
"Every single high school student (and her parents) should be required to read this book before applying to college." - Seth Godin, Author, Meatball Sundae

"If you're considering college - or sending a child to college - this is the book you have to read first!" - Thom Hartmann, Nationally syndicated radio talk-show host

"The cost of college is skyrocketing. Students are increasingly getting into hock - at rates they can't afford - just to pay their bills. No Sucker Left Behind is a must-read manual that tells us about this pernicious debt trap and what we can do about it." - Danny Schechter, Director, IN DEBT WE TRUST

"Every student and parent needs to read this book. I wish my son had read it before he went to college." -- Janne O'Donnell, Board of Directors, Americans for Fairness in Lending

About the Author
Marc Scheer, Ph.D., is a researcher, career counselor, and educational consultant who lives in New York City. He has counseled students at public and private colleges and universities around the country, and he has managed a wide range of educational, financial, and investment studies for large research and media firms. Dr. Scheer completed his Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

Excerpted from No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-off by Marc Scheer. Copyright © 2008. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Top 10 Myths About College

1. A college degree is worth about $1 million (or more) over a lifetime.
2. College graduates are financially "set for life."
3. Colleges have very little money and need every penny they can get.
4. Colleges are committed to giving their students a good education.
5. Colleges provide students with excellent career preparation.
6. Colleges give their students the support they need in order to graduate.
7. Prestigious and expensive colleges provide a better education and better career advantages than other colleges.
8. All kinds of financial aid are safe for students.
9. Graduate school always leads to an excellent payoff for students.
10. People have to go to college to get a "college education."

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Three stars for the price, July 5 2008
By Sue CC "suecc" (East Coast USA) - See all my reviews

This review is from: No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-off (Hardcover)

My only comment is that no matter how useful the information may be, charging 39.95 seems like the ultimate ripoff irony. I don't think this book is out yet, but start to combat the college ripoff early and get it from the library. When I do, and if the book is good, I'll come back and post a review saying so.

Note: Had the commenter checked out the prices offered by various sellers s/he would have found that it can be purchased for as low as $14.95. Incredibly specious.

maxheadroom said...

Why God Never Received A PhD

1. He had only one major publication.

2. It was in Hebrew.

3. It had no references.

4. It wasn’t published in a refereed journal.

5. Some even doubt he wrote it by himself.

6. It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?

7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.

8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.

9. He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human subjects.

10. When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.

11. When subjects didn’t behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.

12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.

13. Some say he had his son teach the class.

14. He expelled his first two students for learning.

15. Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed his tests.

16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.

17. No record of working well with colleagues.

Eveningsun said...

18. He failed to clear his famous "Job" experiment with the Human Subjects Board.

realityemperor said...

@maxheadroom:

Very nice. Where did you get this from? I don't want to just go around plagiarizing.

maxheadroom said...

Normally I would not reply to such an insolent little twit like yourself. But since you are making such a seriously idiotic and unsubstantiated accusation, I will make an exception in this case for the simple-minded.

I received it in an email. I did not realise that posting content from an email was considered plagiarism.

Do you presume to be the internet police that assumes guilt until proven innocent like your Internal Revenue Service?

Very presumptuous since you do not provide any credentials or cite any sources that would explain why it would even matter to you in the first place.

You may now return to policing the net Senator McCarthy.

spinner said...

In regards to maxheadroom's comment, I am amazed you would describe someone else as "insolent" when you would rage against the Almighty with your list of "Why God never got a PhD." I am satisfied with the knowledge that, at the appointed time (and it WILL come), you will face Him and we will see just how bold and brash you are then.